For the last five years, busloads of fifth-graders have experienced what it’s like to be a Virginia Tech student. This annual college aspirations program helps young students consider the possibilities and benefits of attending college.

After an official welcome and orientation, the prospective students are ferried off to science labs across campus where demonstrations evoke squeals of delight as well as creative questions. The “Kindergarten to College” series is a partnership between the School of Education and VT-STEM for high-needs schools across the state.

“Our program serves as a model across the commonwealth for college and career awareness partnerships,” says Sue Magliaro, professor of education and VT-STEM director, who coordinates the Kindergarten to College program. This year, schools from Giles County, Montgomery County, Prince William County, Roanoke City, and Roanoke County are participating on Fridays through April 11.

The day begins with an orientation by Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs at Virginia Tech. Holloway, who has delivered dozens of orientation addresses to incoming Virginia Tech students, encourages these younger students to think of the many occupations and careers that are made possible with a college degree.

Following the orientation, students split into small groups and visit various science labs across campus where they become active participants in science experiments. The students visit one of the following: STEM Collaboratory in the School of Education or labs in aerospace, chemistry, geological sciences, engineering education, the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, Integrative STEM, physics, science education, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and the WARE Lab.

The students experience lunch on campus in D-2 dining hall with the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, followed by a tour of the athletics facilities including a visit to Cassell Coliseum, Lane Stadium, and the Hokie Sports Memorabilia Room.

Virginia Career Vital Information for Education and Work plays an active role before, during, and after each visit with career awareness materials for students, teachers, and parents. The website provides everyone with a wealth of information to make the one-day visit a portal to ongoing career exploration and preparation. Recognized as the commonwealth's career information delivery system for all students in kindergarten through Grade 8 in Virginia, the Virginia Career VIEW portal is also a service provided by Virginia Tech’s School of Education.

The Kindergarten to College program is supported by the Virginia Tech president's and provost's offices, along with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; College of Engineering; College of Science; the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute; the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; the Department of Athletics; and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.