When You Were a Kindergartener, Did You Know What College Was?

Since working at KIPP in Los Angeles I have always been mind blown over the fact that our young students in our schools know what college is. At their age of five or six, I did not have the slightest idea that I would want to attend college one day. This was so far fetched for me at that age.

I visited one of our campuses the other day, KIPP Valiant Community Prep in East Palo Alto. I spent time in the cafeteria with kindergarteners and first graders and had some pretty great conversations with students. One of the classrooms I was chatting with was named Cal Bears. At KIPP, every classroom is named after a university or a college.

One student in particular was so excited and shared that her entire class was going on a field trip the next day to “The REAL Cal Bears.” Her eyes widened so big when she told me. Her class of maybe 20+ five and six year olds were going on a field trip to UC Berkeley! On a field trip! TO UC BERKELEY! She felt a sense of pride that they would visit the school that her classroom was named after. This little scholar felt a personal connection to UC Berkeley. At her age, I felt connected to cartoons and hot Cheetos! Ha!

Now, I want to make sure my readers understand that I believe that all children should have whatever it takes to lead choice-filled lives even if for some, college is not their choice. But I strongly believe that higher education opens up many opportunities and will prepare many of our students to compete in the digital and tech era we currently live in.

For those of you, who like me, didn’t necessarily know what college was when you were in kindergarten, I have a question for you. What would be true for you if maybe you were aware of the concept of going to college? I know from me I would have had a longer runway (more time) to plan and prepare. I would have had a higher self esteem about continuing my education after high school.

What KIPP is doing is beautiful. Beyond my conversation with five year olds, teachers and staff motivate our students about school and about college. It is such a shame that many people out there don’t see or experience the awesome things happening on our campuses. WIth that said, I welcome you to tour and visit! Maybe you can ask our students what college they want to attend or what difference they want to make in the world. I promise you, you will be mind blown as well.

What do you think?
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Melissa Salgado

Melissa Salgado

Melissa Salgado was raised in East Los Angeles by her single mother and three older siblings. She graduated from James A. Garfield High School and received her Bachelor's degree in Chicana/o Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013. She currently works at KIPP Public Schools in Northern California as the Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement. Through personal and professional experiences, Melissa knows the importance of engaging families in schools and more importantly engaging them in their children's education. Her passion has always been in educational equity and her hope is that she can ignite fires in others to embrace the power of personal stories that creates changes in current systems of oppression specifically in our public education system.

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