Walking through the new Health and Life Sciences Building on the campus of Elgin Community College, 13-year-old Jordan Stratton declared she's not signing up for a major in the medical field.
"I'm not good with blood and needles," said Jordan, an eighth-grade student at Algonquin Middle School in Community Unit District 300. "I am thinking about journalism."
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Jordan and about 200 of her schoolmates visited the college Friday as part of the Middle School Fridays program, a collaboration between the college's admissions office and the Alliance for College Readiness.
The college partners with middle schools from its four feeder districts to provide students a chance to learn about college, said Julie Schaid, interim dean of college transitions and developmental education.
"Our goal is to let as many middle school students as possible see college and get a sense of what college is," Schaid said. "It is never too early to start talking about college and why school and the choices you make now are important."
In addition, Britt Kotecki, a social worker at Algonquin Middle School, said the visit gives students a chance to explore programs they may not have considered previously.
"There is opportunity here for everybody," Kotecki said. "It's not just for people who are all academic."
A panel led by student ambassadors from ECC introduced students to life on campus before showing them firsthand what the campus has to offer.
Students toured the health sciences building, the automotive department, the culinary arts school and the new library.
"It is a lot more hands-on learning than just sitting in lectures," Jordan said. "I have had classes that were more hands-on and they are helpful."
Klaudia Staszczuk, 13, said visiting ECC opened her up to potential careers in the health services field, like dentistry.
"This makes you start to think about careers and what classes to take in high school," she said.