Sounding like film critics, about 800 sixth-graders from Baton Rouge public middle schools mused on whether LSU, which they’d just toured Thursday, is the place they wanted to go to college.
“This is a much bigger campus than Southern (University), and I like the buildings,” observed John Ross, 11.
“I was thinking about going to Southern,” said Soloria Perkins, 12. “My whole family has graduated from Southern. They are going to be really angry.”
Laila Joseph, 11, said the tour covered “everything we needed to see,” including “acting, singing, dancing, going to college and learning stuff.”
“So I’m thinking I might want to go here, I’m guessing,” she offered finally.
Ross, Perkins and Joseph all attend Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy in north Baton Rouge.
The middle school, along with McKinley, North Banks and Southeast middle schools, participated in Thursday’s “Sixth Grade Day.” It’s the third such day this school year, attracting more than 2,600 sixth-graders to the campus of the state’s flagship university.
It is part of a larger Journey to College initiative, the brainchild of LSU President F. King Alexander, who did something similar at his previous job overseeing a university in Long Beach, California. The idea is to spark early interest in college just as children are starting to think about their futures.
The tour touched on music and dramatic arts, science, agriculture, engineering and the humanities.
At the LSU School of Music and Dramatic Arts, several students were wowed by a demonstration of “aerial silks”: A male and a female student climbed up long sheets of silk and performed impressive acrobatic stunts.
At the Museum of Natural Sciences, the stuffed animals and bugs were a hit, especially the stuffed original 1950s-era Mike the Tiger, complete with its recorded roar.
Perkins had hoped to see the real Mike.
“Where is he? Over there? Well, I can come back,” she said disappointedly.
Chad Segura, assistant principal of the Scotlandville middle school, said the tour was well-organized.
“I think it hit all of the kids’ interests,” Segura said.
Amid the fun, the need to start getting ready for college was emphasized repeatedly.
Syndee Fullmer, who coordinates recruiting for LSU’s theater program, made clear that time is shorter than the children thought.
“You all have only 77 months before you graduate,” she announced, before unfurling two big sheets with a long list of directives. “Here is your to-do list.”
LSU gave every visitor a brochure to bring home to their parents called “Your Journey to College Begins Today.”
Alexander left the students with parting advice: “Don’t quit. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t go to college.”