Area fifth graders learn all about college during Compass 2 Campus tour day

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Western Today editor

Close to 800 fifth-graders from Skagit and Whatcom counties visited Western Washington University Tuesday, Oct. 25, to see firsthand what a university campus is like. The tour kicked off the third year of Compass 2 Campus, a proactive effort that sends trained WWU student mentors into schools in order to get more kids to see themselves as future college students.

Modeled after a successful program in Wisconsin, Compass 2 Campus aims to get more kids thinking early about college with the help of mentors and role models to show them the importance of higher education. The tour is just the beginning of a long-term relationship between the youngsters and WWU mentors. The students who toured the WWU campus the past two years as fifth-graders now work with Western student mentors in their classrooms. And they will continue to see WWU students as Compass 2 Campus grows each year, eventually serving thousands of students in the fifth- through 12th grades.

“Research tells us mentorship is the key,” said Cyndie Shepard, director of the program. “Kids who are mentored or who have a significant adult in their lives have a better chance of success.”

On Oct. 25, the fifth-graders went on tours of Western’s campus personalized to the youngsters’ interests. They got to see the inside of real college classrooms and laboratories to glimpse what’s in store for those who are motivated to do well in school. Professors with specialties ranging from music to marine biology opened their doors to these students.