09.19.2018

35 Treehouse Youth Visit Colleges

By Merissa Humes, Treehouse Education Specialist

Treehouse coordinated college visits for our youth to a number of schools this summer, including Eastern Washington University, Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle University, University of Washington-Tacoma, Washington State University and Western Washington University.

The visits were opportunities for 35 high school-aged youth in foster care to get a first-hand account of the college experience, accompanied by their Education Specialists in Treehouse’s Graduation Success program.

Students went on a campus tour, received an admissions and financial aid presentation, learned more about resources and support for youth in foster care, ate lunch on campus and even picked out some college gear from the campus bookstore. They engaged with current undergraduate students, heard about their college experiences and received answers to any questions they had.

The visits were so valuable, as the youth were able to envision themselves in college. They saw that continuing their education didn’t have to be a dream. It could one day be a reality.

Below are some additional reflections shared by Treehouse youth and staff who attended the college visits:

As I looked into the sleepy eyes of the youth attending the Western Washington University visit, a humbling feeling of nostalgia cascaded through my mind. I reflected on my first college visit. I remember the nervousness. I remember the self-doubting questions.

Our youth were quiet, most likely from the 9 a.m. pick-up time during the summer break when they might have looser restrictions on bedtimes. Once we were walking around on the campus, entering classrooms, eating in the dining halls and asking questions to our guides and speakers, their quiet, timid demeanors melted away.

It was in that moment that I was aware of what nearly every youth experiences. We never know what we want for sure until we are there in the moment. When youth are thinking about education after high school, it’s a scary thought. You’re going away to this foreign and large establishment that people have told you stories about, both good and bad. Knowing the magnitude of the decision that you are about to make can be stressful, especially for youth in foster care. But what I saw once they were at the school was pure joy.

What brought the youth joy was asking questions about their interests and passions. College visits give them that opportunity, including the one or two burning questions that might be causing fear and doubt.

— David Harris, Treehouse Education Specialist

What I liked about going to Eastern Washington University was learning about all of the different majors and minors they had. They had an amazing variety—something for each and every student. Whether you want to major in education, nursing or social work, they have it all.

— Makaila, Treehouse Graduation Success Student

This was an awesome opportunity to build relationships outside of school, explore career opportunities and expand horizons, empowering our youth to dream beyond city limits.

— Nicole Jordan, Treehouse Education Specialist

I was the chaperone for the Washington State University and Eastern Washington University trips, and I could tell my students really enjoyed looking around the campus. After the tours, all of my youth were excited and felt that college was 100 percent possible.

In high school, it can be challenging to visualize what college is like and how to afford it. Going on a tour and participating in information sessions opened my youth’s eyes to all the opportunities available to them. Getting to feel the high energy of a college campus seemed to make it real for them.

It’s wonderful that Treehouse is able to provide our youth with the opportunity to visit college campuses. Learning what programs and scholarships each college has to offer them greatly helps them visualize their future.

— Stacy Bailey, Treehouse Education Specialist

It was really amazing to see my students interact with the facilitators and ask questions during the University of Washington-Tacoma and Eastern Washington University visits. They showed an interest in college that I had not seen before the trips, and that was really wonderful.

I think being on campus allowed them to better visualize what it would be like to go to college and imagine themselves as part of that community. They also got to hear from amazing facilitators, including some who work specifically with students in foster care, and learn about the supports available to them when applying to and attending college.

— Janelle Smith, Treehouse Education Specialist

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About the Author

Merissa Humes is an Education Specialist at Treehouse, serving youth in the Kent School District. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington and more than eight years of college admissions experience. She also has a heart for service and hopes to motivate and empower our next generation of leaders.


Comment (1)

sandra wong

October 22, 2018

Thanks for the photos and narrative. So glad to see so many of our kids had this great opportunity. The dedication of our ed staff is awesome.

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