Monday, November 15, 2010

Columbia College Visit

On Friday, November 12th, four students (Kierre, NyShanell, Starisha, and Akeim) and I visited Columbia College in downtown Chicago. Each fall we try to visit one university or college per month because it is prime time for applications. However, while our seniors may get the most tangible use out of these visits, we encourage all students to take advantage of the opportunities. Even for our elementary school students, it is important to begin the visioning process now.

Columbia College Chicago is a private arts and media college with over 120 academic programs including creative writing, fashion design, film & video, journalism, music, theater, and more. Columbia has a fantastic mission here, part of which says, "Columbia's intent is to educate students who will communicate creatively and shape the public's perceptions of issues and events and who will author the culture of their times." I must say, it really does read and feel like a college designed for the 21st century.

Before going on an official tour, our day began with lunch in the University Center. UC is a residence facility equipped with suites and apartments, a dining facility, a fitness room, and more; located at 525 South State Street. Special thanks to Lynn Cruz and Kim Vitek of UC Dining Services for allowing our students to eat for free!

After lunch, we walked a few blocks east to the Admissions Office at 600 South Michigan Avenue. This is where we met Laura, our tour guide for the day. Because Columbia has such a wide array of programs, each tour is actually catered to the group, so Laura began with simple questions to determine our students' interests. We discovered that education, fashion design, video game design, film, and photography were the top interests.

Laura did a great job in taking us to as many of these programs as possible. Hallways in the fashion design department were lined with beautiful displays of fabrics and outfits on manikins. The photography department also has a lot of work on display, and we got to go in a dark room! Even on a Friday afternoon, there were lots of students hard at work. I could tell they were passionate about it.

Of all the places we visited, the video game department was definitely the standout. Each year, the senior class designs a video game which last year was called GruntWork. As Laura showed us the preliminary designs for the game, Kierre and NyShanell (former Tech Club members) couldn't help but think of the Cabrini Connections video game in production right now. Just like GruntWork, they began with designing characters and a layout.

Also in the video game department, we were treated to an impromptu Q&A session with current students. We were simply looking in a computer lab... a few student workers realized why we were there... and they started chiming in with notes. More Columbia students came in... our students kept asking questions... and it went on for about 15 minutes. It was a fantastic experience and I must commend my four tourmates for asking such intelligent questions. Most of them have been on college visits before and I could tell they are more comfortable in the environment now.

Thank you, Laura, for being a such great tour guide, and thanks to Sarah Osterman of Admissions for setting up our visit. We had a great time! I look forward to the day we can bring back more students to visit, and I hope eventually we can hand some of them off to you permanently ;-)

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