Middle school students get taste of university at UBC Okanagan

Several hundred students from Okanagan elementary, middle and high schools are getting an up-close look at UBC Okanagan this month through the Taste of University program.

Visiting classes stay overnight in UBC Okanagan's student residences, then go on an extensive campus tour, and take part in science activities in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences labs. Groups from 11 schools, ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 10, are participating this year, visiting from Kelowna, Penticton, Summerland, Lake Country, Vernon and other communities.

"Students in these grades need to know that it's important to get good grades in high school if they want to pursue their education after high school," says Dana Webster, UBC Okanagan’s Manager of Conference Sales and Marketing, who first developed the program in 1997.

Visiting students also attend a presentation on career and education paths and the wide scope of programs at both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.

"We try to give the students a broad overview of career choices and trends in today’s workforce, as well," says Webster. "Bringing them on campus helps them feel more comfortable about attending university.

"Our aim is to get the students turned on about their future and get them thinking about what they need to do to accomplish their goals. We also want them to have fun."

A typical Taste of University visit begins with an afternoon barbecue, followed by an overnight stay in the student residences. After breakfast the next morning, students participate in a career and education orientation, a tour of the UBC Okanagan campus, and a science lab session studying pond bugs under the microscope before departing back to their schools around mid-day.

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