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Bound for Elon in 2020? Second graders say "yes"

“If you’re 7 years old, how many more years before you can come to Elon?” That was one of many questions School of Education Dean David Cooper asked second graders Tuesday at McDougle Elementary School in Carrboro, N.C., when he visited to share stories and information about the university as part of the school’s “go to college” mission.

David Cooper, dean of the School of Education, visited second graders in a Carrboro, N.C., school on June 8 at the invitation of a teacher who graduated from the Master of Education program at the university. (Photo by Barbara Tyroler)

Cooper was invited to the class to answer questions about Elon and to bring Elon material to add to their collection. Each classroom has adopted a college or university, and Kim Mellor’s second grade students selected Elon.

Mellor, who earned her Master of Education degree from Elon's School of Education in 2004, taught them over the year about the university’s oak trees and the Phoenix.

On June 8, Cooper explained the symbolic colors on his academic regalia, formed students into a “human bar graph” to show what states Elon students call home, and compared the job of the dean to the school principal’s job.

McDougle’s focus on college is consistent with research that shows early awareness of college to be one of the keys to increasing college attendance, particularly among students whose families have no history of college attendance. Twenty percent of Mellor’s second graders fall into that group.

Cooper found that second graders asked the kind of questions he expects from high school students shopping for colleges: "What does Elon specialize in?" (His answer: "Engaged learning."). "Is Elon fun?" (His answer: "If you like spending all night in the library, then yes!"). "Does Elon accept students who have not finished high school?" (His answer: "Yes, but you do have to finish second grade.").

The McDougle Elementary School second graders in Kim Mellor's classroom learned about oak trees and the Phoenix during David Cooper's visit. (Photo by Barbara Tyroler)

Cooper’s visit included academic work as well. Mellor wrote the following analogy on the board: “Phoenix : Elon :: ______ : McDougle.” (Hint: the school’s mascot is the dolphin).

Cooper asked a student: “If you’re 7 years old, and Elon will admit you at age 18, then how many more years before you can come to Elon?” All the students knew the answer, and when asked how they got it, Cooper said each had thought of a different way to solve the problem.

Cooper asked students what they wanted to be when they grow up and if they thought that college could help them. Responses included: singer, teacher, astronomer, engineer, and archeologist. That student, when asked what an archeologist does, said she had no idea, but that she liked the sound of it.

And she thought that coming to Elon would help her learn the answer.

Eric Townsend,
6/9/2010 12:12 PM