Cathy Rosevear’s third and fourth grade students spend all year on their grade-school lessons. But in May, they go to college. That’s when Rosevear converts her classroom into Xavier University and doles out majors for the kids to explore.
It’s called Imaginary University, something that the Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, a charter school in Cincinnati, has practiced for six years. For a month, classrooms are converted into a college campus, and the students study different majors to get a taste of what college is all about.
Last May the Blue Blob, Xavier’s furry blue mascot, showed up and played with the kids, while three women’s basketball and one volleyball player talked about what it’s like to be a college athlete. For the 24 third graders, hearing star athletes talk about how they, too, can go to college was eye-opening, says Rosevear, a 2006 MEd graduate.
“A lot of the children were just shocked that real athletes were in our school and that the girls said they play basketball so they can go to college,” says Rosevear. “A couple of the children started talking about what they want to do in college.”
Most of the children live in a lower-income neighborhood of Cincinnati with families for whom college education has never been an option. So Rosevear builds their interest by decorating her classroom with all things Xavier—like pennants and pompoms. And she presents the practicality of majors—showing how business knowledge applies to managing your income or buying a house. She presents one major each week, such as zoology, medicine, engineering and government.
“Our overall purpose is opening our students’ eyes because where they come from is not college-based,” she says.