Vision Days Program to Expand in Year 2

Vision Days logo.

By Ashley Cunigan
CCBP Student Program Assistant

A community education initiative begun with the goal of planting seeds of a college education in students for whom a college degree seemed unlikely will reach some 500 students from underrepresented areas in Alabama in 2019, an increase of almost 25 percent over the year before. Vision Days for the fall semester will be Nov. 5 and 7 and Nov. 12 and 14.

Vision Days, a program of the Division of Community Affairs’ Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), brings to campus high school students to learn about different majors and extracurricular activities.

Students from 17 high schools will be attending this fall, four more than last year. The University of Alabama is proud to bring back this program for a second year allowing in-state high school students to explore a variety of interests and possible majors.

Begun fall semester 2018, the event attracted 400 9th-grade students from Alabama’s Black Belt and other underrepresented areas for a total of four days over two consecutive weeks. This year, Vision Days moves to a cohort model, which will allow attendees to return in their sophomore, junior and senior years.

Director of Community Education Andrea Ziegler, who directs Vision Days, said: “Vision Days provides opportunities for students to explore life beyond high school while developing connections within the University. We want to partner with students to help them see that the path to their future includes the university.”

Daniela M. Susnara, CCBP’s program coordinator for community education, added, “Vision Days not only gives students a glimpse of The University of Alabama, but also a vision of their opportunities beyond high school. Our aim is to give them an eye-opening experience by welcoming them to campus and creating relationships.”

Vision Days is composed of three sessions that explore the possibilities of attending UA. Students go on a tour based on their major or college of interest. They are then invited to a table fair with representatives from Early College (which offers high school students college courses), Honors College, the Graduate School, Capstone Center for Student Success, Career Center, student work programs and student organizations. The day concludes with an information session about scholarship opportunities and financial aid.

As an on-campus recruiting initiative, Vision Days is supported by every college on campus, allowing the entire University to make connections with students during Vision Days and to follow up with them through their high school graduation.

Each high school cohort that visits campus will have a different focus. For example, 9th graders receive an introduction to UA; 10th graders focus on the Office of Student Life, which includes, housing, recreation and student activities; 11th graders concentrate on majors, courses and programs of study. In their senior year, Vision Days attendees prepare for the college application process and applying for scholarships.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for the Division of Community Affairs, said, “Vision Days gives students the opportunity to think about their interests and the importance of higher education for their life’s goals. It also helps students make decisions about their high school courses in relation to their intended college major. Vision Days opens eyes to the future.”

Community Affairs got the idea for Vision Days from the annual New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, sponsored annually by CCBP, as well as from an institutional effort to reach more in-state students from traditionally underserved areas.