Kits & Cats’ event brings ETHS students to campus

Sammy Caiola

The second installment of Kits & Cats @ NU, a collaborative effort between Northwestern and Evanston Township High School, brought 33 high school sophomores to campus Tuesday for educational programming and campus tours.

The program, which premiered in October, returned this spring with a slightly altered structure and a new focus on math and science, said Beth Arey, ETHS college and career coordinator. Although 83 students initially registered for the program this round, only 33 got on the bus Tuesday morning. Arey said the low turnout is due to the timing, since many students cannot afford to miss class so close to end-of-year exams.

Students who did attend started the day in the Technological Institute, where University President Morton Schapiro spoke about the importance of applying to college. He answered questions about dorm quality, course flexibility, acceptance rates and financial aid and encouraged the sophomores to work hard and “think in general about college, but more specifically about Northwestern.”

“I hope you think in general about college, but more specifically about Northwestern, ’cause I think if you come here, you’ll have a great time. You’ll work hard, you’ll be prepared for the future, you’ll eventually enter an alumni body that helps you get jobs,” Schapiro said. “If you come here, or if indeed you go to the University of Illinois or any of these other great schools, doors are going to be open to you.”

While discussing the perks of staying close to home, Schapiro mentioned an $8,000 grant that has been available to ETHS students for the past two years, as well as work-study opportunities.

The students also watched a scene from Twelfth Night at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, ate lunch with head football coach Pat Fitzgerald and received free NU gear from the Norris Bookstore.

After lunch, the program split into groups for campus tours and hands-on laboratory work in the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging and Dearborn Observatory, said Amy Pratt, associate director in the office of STEM educational partnerships. Pratt helped Arey create the itinerary, which she said was science-oriented this time but will hopefully focus on a different subject area with each future visit.

Zayra Perez-Roman, an ETHS sophomore who has visited NU four times through various school trips, said she plans to apply to NU even though she knows it’s competitive.

“I really like it because it’s a big campus and I like to see the buildings,” she said. “I’ve been on honor roll lately, so I hope that helps. My parents want me to be close, so I’ll try this out.”

This year, 17 out of the 69 ETHS students who applied to NU were accepted, which is consistent with the numbers from last year, Arey said. Only five of the 17 accepted students enrolled for the 2012-2013 school year.

Arey suggested the “low” 25 percent acceptance rate might be caused by a high number of unqualified or uninformed students who apply to NU because they want to be close to home.

“When I’m counseling students here, it’s surprising to me how many of them are unfamiliar with Northwestern, haven’t been on campus or to an event or a program,” Arey said “They don’t have a clear understanding of who Northwestern is or the selectivity of admission. Our numbers look kind of funny, which is why I need kids to be more informed.”

Lucile Krasnow, the University’s special assistant for community relations who also helped with event planning, said Kits & Cats @ NU is part of the “Good Neighbor, Great University” initiative, which provides scholarship money for Evanston and Chicago-area high school graduates.

“We feel a strong connection to Evanston Township High School,” she said. “We want to encourage them to apply to whatever school is appropriate. This is such a powerful message for high school kids. We want them to walk away thinking how cool college is.”

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