College Awareness Activities for Elementary Students

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

This lesson is going to cover some college awareness activities appropriate for elementary school students. Activities will include those that can be done in the classroom as well as school wide and outside of the school.


Perhaps going to college was an automatic decision for you when you were a child. There are some children that know from a very early age that they are going to go to college and even what they will become in their adult life. The decision to go to college is not as easily reached for other children. Then there are children that are not even aware that college is even an option for them.

The idea of college should be introduced very early in a child's life, ideally in the elementary school years. Doing this at the elementary school level, can help children to shape their education, and ultimately, their futures. As a teacher, you have an important role to play in bringing awareness of college to your students. Some activities should be done in your classroom while others should include the whole school and still others should include your students' families as well. There is a wide range of ages at the elementary level. The activities you chose should be grade appropriate and based on the maturity level of your students.

College Awareness

In the Classroom

Elementary students in all grades enjoy doing word search and crossword puzzles. You can have your students do college word search or crossword puzzles that introduce the names of different colleges or terms that are associated with attending college. Just be sure the ones you choose are not too difficult for the grade you teach.

Another great way to introduce college to elementary students is to set aside a week for you and some of the parents of your students to tell about their college experiences. Young children often like to hear about what went on in the lives of the adults in their lives when they were growing up. Sharing how long college took, program of study and social experiences with students can help them not only to know about college but also get excited about the idea of going.

If you teach 3rd to 5th grades, then have your students create a fantasy college. Give them a rubric letting them know everything that should be included in their fantasy college but leave enough room for them to add their own spin on college. Make it more interesting by having them also design a logo and mascot as part of creating the college.

It is important for students to know the steps required in order to get into college, so you can have your students create a college roadmap. The college roadmap should go from the grade they are in all the way through graduating from college and securing a job. That activity may be a little too advanced for K - 2nd grade, so if you teach those grades you can use a modified version of the same activity. Have a pathway with boxes for your students to fill in that show the steps to going to and completing college. It can have less blocks for kindergarten while 2nd grade can have more boxes for a more detailed pathway. You can also give a word bank or bank of phrases to help them fill in the pathway.

In the School

Some college students enjoy going back to a school they previously attended and seeing how it changed or just to reminisce about being there. Some may stop by because they have a younger sibling in school there. Use this to your advantage. Invite former students to speak to the student body about their college experience while they are still in college. While young students do like to learn about the adults, they definitely like to hear and learn from people closer to their age. This will particularly help to rope in your 'cool' students that do not want to listen to adults at all. They will still get the benefit of learning about college as a possibility.

One of the best ways to introduce college on a bigger scale to elementary school students is to have a school-wide college spirit day or week. You will need to coordinate this with the administrators at your school as well as the other teachers. All faculty and staff should wear something to represent the college they attended. The classrooms should be decorated with banners and other objects related to college. Take the students on a tour of the school to see the different colleges represented throughout the building.

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