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Exploring Futures: IPS Launches Middle School College Campus Visits Program

 Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is implementing an innovative pilot program that will allow middle school students to visit area college campuses, aiming to underscore the viability of higher education as a compelling option for their future.

“The IPS Middle School College Campus Visits Program is designed to cultivate a culture that not only sees college as a possibility but as a logical next step for every student,” said Aaron Munson, the director of middle school academies and pathways.

He also noted the importance of establishing university partnerships early, citing research that underscores the impact of such initiatives on a student’s postsecondary journey.

“Shifting the culture of IPS from viewing college as a pipedream to viewing college as an expectation requires these university and school partnerships to begin before high school,” Munson said.

To ensure a smooth rollout, this year’s pilot program involves middle school students from Longfellow, Northwest, William Penn, and Clarence Farrington schools. A total of 1,141 students are participating in the pilot this spring, providing valuable insights, and refining the program before expanding to all middle schools.

IPS is collaborating with Marion County postsecondary institutions to create pathways for middle school students to engage in age-appropriate activities on college campuses, including: 

  • University of Indianapolis
  • Butler University
  • Ivy Tech
  • Marian University
  • Vincennes University Aviation Technology Center, Indianapolis
  • Martin University
  • IU Indianapolis (formerly IUPUI)

The program faces challenges in coordinating visits due to variations in requirements among the participating institutions. The focus is on training IPS school counselors and staff members to navigate the unique processes of each partner institution.

Beginning in 2024-25, IPS is making it an expectation that every middle school student experiences a college campus visit during each of their three years in IPS middle schools. 

For the 2024-25 academic year, the estimated cost for the program is $25,200. This investment will cover more than 80 field trips, benefitting more than 5,200 students in grades 6 through 8.