College workshops introduce youth to higher learning

Students in gifted programs at area school districts had the opportunity to experience college classes and prepare for higher education during a workshop at Penn State DuBois on Thursday. Around 30 students in grades seven through twelve visited campus from five different school districts: Brookville, DuBois, Punxsutawney, Clarion and Keystone.

Penn State DuBois Enrollment Services periodically holds Gifted Workshops as an opportunity for advanced middle and high school students to attend sample college courses and explore opportunities in their future education. Each workshop focuses on a different academic area.  The most recent workshop featured courses in English and psychology, with a common concentration on human emotion. In the English course, taught by Penn State DuBois associate professor of English Tony Vallone, students wrote poetry that expressed their feelings about subjects that they found exasperating, learning constructive ways to vent their frustration. In the psychology class, instructor Bill Allenbaugh introduced the students to techniques that can be used to calm themselves during stressful situations.

"Teachers from the gifted programs at these school districts told us that there is a lot of interest in psychology among their students," said Holli Lashinsky, a campus admissions counselor who organized the workshop. "So, we tried to build the workshop around that interest and offer something that would really appeal to the students." 

At the same time the students are taking in new lessons on subjects that they find appealing, Lashinsky hopes that they're also learning what they can expect as they take the next steps in their education. She said, "It's never too early to start thinking about college and this is a great way for students to get a little taste of what college classes are like."

The teachers who accompanied the middle and high school students to the workshop agreed that the early exposure to college could help many of their students make decisions on their future college majors or even their careers. 

"It's a great way for them to experience college in a non-intimidating way, and to explore different opportunities," said Melinda Burton, who teaches on both the high school and elementary level at Brookville Area School District.  Burton said the workshop could inspire students to consider Dual Enrollment college programs while they're still in high school as a way to accelerate their college education. She said, "We have a lot of students who are undecided about what they want to do.  Here, they're exploring their options, and this can even get them to think about Jump Start or Dual Enrollment classes. Some students really have no idea what they want to do and this is opening their awareness."

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Last Updated April 22, 2013