UT Austin street sign. Why not take your little ones on an adventure to your closest university campus.

Take Your Child to College

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Categories Activities, Education, Going out, Parenting

I encourage you to spend a few hours with your kids at your local university or community college. You’ll be surprised at what you can find to do there. Without them realizing it, you’ll be setting your children up to imagine themselves as university students in a few short years.

I know that college isn’t for everyone. Many of us are happier for going straight into the job market or getting vocational training. I do believe, though, that every child has a right to know that a four year degree can be an option. Given my daughters’ love of formal education, I would be very surprised if they didn’t elect to head straight for a Bachelors degree after high school. I did. Their dad didn’t. They have options.

I work at a university, so I know many of the hidden gems of campus. Ever since my daughters were toddlers, we’ve visited the campus on occasional weekends to go exploring. Sometimes, there are child-focused activities, such as Fossil Day, Explore UT, and the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibit.

The Alice in Wonderland exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center.

Even without those, though, there’s plenty to do. We never go to campus without paying a visit to the Turtle Pond.

The University of Texas at Austin Turtle Pond is a great stop for little ones.

Scavenger hunts are a wonderful way to occupy a few hours. When my daughters were learning the alphabet, I’d challenge them to find each letter as we roamed the university. They loved carrying little clipboards and crossing out the letters, one at a time, as they looked at signs, fliers, and license plates.

UT Austin street sign. Why not take your little ones on an adventure to your closest university campus.

We’ve examined the details of architecture on campus. It’s amazing what you notice if you look closely. My office was in this building for years, but I never stop discovering new details I’ve missed.

MAI details

As the girls grew older, we began to talk about the people whose names were engraved on university buildings.

On our last campus outing, I gave the girls license to take photos. J noticed how beautifully painted the ceiling of a walkway was and took this photo. I’ve walked past that building for 14 years and never noticed.

Notice the details.

We are building wonderful memories. My daughters have an image of where I go during the day.

A plaque at UT Austin.

I’m also showing them that a university is a place they want to be. They see college students walking campus, carrying books in and out of the library, sitting on the grass and strumming guitars. They can see themselves at college because they’ve spent time on this, and other university campuses. They’ve visited my alma mater in California and several other Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina colleges. When we set forth to visit the planetarium in Chapel Hill, NC, I didn’t even realize it was part of the university until we arrived.

Forget take your kid to work day. Take your child to college!

Barbara Jordan statue at UT Austin.Have you and your kids explored a college campus? What did you do there?


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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

41 thoughts on “Take Your Child to College”

  1. This is great! We have no affiliation to the local university here, but we still love to go walk around campus. There are a million sidewalks and steps and ramps…along with lots of gorgeous landscaping. It’s a great way to spend an hour or so. I’d never thought about the message I was sending the girls, but you’re right…what a great way to plant the seed of higher education in a way they can easily envision.
    MandyE recently posted Thankful for Their ReactionMy Profile

  2. As as school counselor, I applaud you for doing this. As you mentioned, there are many options for students and college isn’t for everyone. However, if we do not expose them to something, they will never know what it will be like. I have pinned this article to use with my parents. I am trying to bring more college and career readiness to the middle school level. Thanks again. Visiting from Sunshine and Elephants

  3. what a great idea to get them introduced to college! I have been to North & South Carolina one of my favourite places ever! Myrtle beach is fantastic and all the surrounding areas! xx

  4. What a great idea and something I have never thought of doing. I know that both me and my hubby will make sure that our children know they have options but there’s something more appealing to show them rather than just saying. Thanks for the advice #twinklytuesday

    1. Absolutely! I practically grew up at Aberdeen University and have fond memories of wishing wells and beautiful old green courtyards. (Dad was teaching Chemistry there.)

  5. This is a great idea. I never went to college or to University as I left home and joined the Army at 16. I obviously will show M all the possibilities that are open to her, and this is a fab idea to open her mind! :-) #twinklytuesday

  6. Brilliant idea! Something has got to feed our dreams and our imaginations, right. Our children find their way in life through what we expose them to and this is a fab thing to expose them too. Love how they see what we don’t pay attention to, because we get so caught with the ‘same old, same old’. Children have fresh eyes and my, how enriched we are to look through them. Thank God for our children and the life they give! So wonderful that we can nourish them so, in making their own life too. I remember visiting Cambridge University, way before I had a child, and I decided then and then that I’ll visit with my child. Your post reminded me of this. Such fabulous time together; thanks for sharing. #TwinklyTuesday

  7. What a great idea. My eldest went straight into work but my son in very interested in attending university.
    There are some beautiful ones not far from us so I will plan a trip very soon #TwinklyTuesday

  8. This is an interesting idea. None of the colleges near us have a campus- they just have buildings scattered throughout the city but I could still take the girls to see some of the historic buildings :) #twinklytuesday

  9. What a fab idea!!!
    I would never have thought of this but I suppose it really does make lots of sense! Gives kids the awareness of what university is all about, usually there’s lots to look at (and many things we don’t notice ourselves!!) and a bonus of occasional kids activities too!!
    Love it!

  10. This is lovely! I remember going with my dad to his job and loving it when I was a kid. He would explain everything and tell stories about colleges and incidents that happened at work. I think it really helps children visualise where their parents go during the day and also what it’ll be like when they in turn go to work. Thanks for reminding me of that! :) #TwinklyTuesday

    1. “Near” is rather a relative term, I think. My daily commute is about that long, so the university feels nearby even though it is 30ish miles away. I grew up on the campuses of Aberdeen and Oxford Universities, which really are quite beautiful, so I think I’m rather spoiled.

  11. What a great idea. I work in a school and know some kids would benefit from this hugely! Will be doing this when Sam is a little older #twinklytuesday xx

  12. What a lovely idea. I’d love to take Mr Sausages to see where I went to university. Especially as universities and colleges are usually so steeped in history. What a wonderful idea to keep education exciting to them.

  13. I don’t think it’s ever crossed my mind to do that!!! But actually ‘university’ is just a word unless you really know what it’s about!!! Kids would have more affinity with it, if they understood about it from an earlier age :) Thanks for the suggestion :) Thanks so much for being such a brill co-host too lovely — I’m sorry I left you to do all the tweets!!!! #TwinklyTuesday x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

  14. What a great idea, I am not sure that we have such a good opportunity in the UK. Being to uni myself our campus wasn’t up to much but going to investigate and see if theres anything on at the local one. Thanks for the idea :) #TwinklyTuesday
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    1. I grew up on the campuses of Aberdeen and Oxford universities, and while I don’t recall them having child-centric activities, they were very green and inviting.

  15. Hi Sadia. What a brilliant idea. I have to say that whilst we are in the habit of introducing our children to their next school move, I’d never considered the Uni tour that you talk about here. What a fabulous place to work too. I love this idea because it gives children the opportunity to see as well as visualise what Uni is all about in a ‘take your child to work’ kind of way.

    Thank you for sharing and hosting #twinklytuesday

  16. A vocational training school is one that my wife talked to me about letting our son do. We each figured that it would be best for him to do that first and then find that job or career that they like. Hey, at least he\’ll be doing that unlike me who\’s been unable to go.

  17. What a neat idea to take your kid to the local college for a tour. This is such a great way to get your kid to envision the future and how to get there. Would I ever be able to get a guided your for my son. He wants to be an art teacher. I think he\’d love a tour of the art facilities. Maybe we can start working on art bases scholarships in a few short years.

  18. I’m really glad that you mentioned vocational training. I feel like this type of training really helps children to figure out earlier on what they really enjoy or they could work towards what they know they want to do. I want to integrate my children into vocational schools and then, later on, they may be ready to work for a 4-year degree.

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