GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Summer is a popular time for high school students to visit colleges and start planning their futures.
A group of students from Wildwood were at Stockton University this week for a tour designed to help them consider careers — even ones they might have thought were out of reach.
The tour, coupled with visits to other colleges and businesses, is the culmination of a yearlong project by the school district and Atlantic Cape Community College.
Funded by a $250,000 College and Career Readiness Partnership grant from the state Department of Education, the program included a boot camp at Atlantic Cape where students took personality tests to identify careers they might like and learned how to create resumes.
“We wanted to reach out to students who had never really thought of college or careers before,” said Josepha Penrose, director of curriculum and instruction for the district.
Dayna Lobe, 17, will be a senior and admits she wasn’t all that enthused about college until she started visiting them. Now, at least, she’s thinking about it.
“It’s not like high school,” she said.
Teachers provided after-school academic tutoring to help with grades. The school is partnering with businesses such as Morey’s Piers and Chartwells, the school’s food service provider, to introduce students to careers in the region.
During the summer students visited business sites that included Tanger Outlets and Bass Pro Shops in Atlantic City and Cumberland County-based television station SNJ.
Zach Cripps, 16, said he liked learning how to do a resume and visiting colleges.
“It’s helping me get ready,” he said.
Suzanne VanWicklen, a Wildwood High School history teacher and tour chaperone, said students can be isolated at the southern tip of New Jersey and rarely have the opportunity to visit business and colleges.
Wildwood science teacher Jennifer Rickert said she has noticed a change in the students.
“They are getting experiences in both college and careers,” she said. “Some are really getting involved.”
“I’m just absorbing everything,” said Kenny Perez, 16, who said his personality test indicated he might be interesting in teaching or communications.
“Boot camp really helped us build a resume,” he said. “I’m already seeing a future. High school is not the end.”
Penrose said she would like to see the program extended to the middle school so students could get a better idea of the courses they’ll need to take in high school to achieve their goals. The current grant targeted high school juniors and seniors, and was open to all students.
“We really want to give every student this opportunity,” she said. “We don’t want to assume that any student is not destined for college.”