"How did you choose what college to go to?" "How long does it take you to walk to class?" "How much time do you spend studying?"
These are the kinds of questions that students want to know about college life - and are getting to ask current college students virtually as part of the Beaver Hangouts program at Oregon State University. Formerly known as "Adopt-A-College Student", the program began with two elementary schools in 2012 as a cost effective way to connect college student mentors with K-12 students.
In 2014, the program hired a full-time AmeriCorps member to expand the program, partnering with GEAR UP schools and other low-income-serving communities. Currently, 20 college students serve as volunteer mentors to 20+ classrooms in 10 different schools across the state, reaching approximately 400 students.
The mentors, known as College Access Coaches, video chat with a particular classroom in bi-weekly sessions throughout the year. The program works with grades 3-12 and modifies college readiness activities and discussion topics to suit the needs of particular grades, for example, discussing tips for applying to scholarships with seniors.
“Beaver Hangouts has been a great opportunity for my students to find out about college life and the different career pathways people have chosen to follow," said Carrie Davis, GEAR UP coordinator and teacher at Yoncalla High School. "It gives my students the chance to find out about different majors they didn't know existed.”
The Beaver Hangouts program is currently at capacity, but interested schools can learn more and fill out an application here for future consideration.