APU participates in third annual 8th Grade Majors Fair

Azusa Pacific University, Citrus College and California State Polytechnic University Pomona hosted their third annual 8th Grade Majors Fair Thursday for 750 middle-school students from local school districts, including St. Frances of Rome School.

The eighth-graders learned about the 25 featured majors through informative booths sponsored and hosted by professors and college students from the three colleges and universities. The event was hosted at Memorial Park North Recreation Center in Azusa.

“It’s the first one, as far as we can tell, in the nation,” said Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research Executive Director Judy Hutchinson. “Some colleges have Career Day, but it’s not the same as having kids think about in eighth grade what they want to major in college, [and] therefore, what they should take in high school.”

Hutchinson stated that the three schools’ participation in the event was a strategic opportunity to provide the young students the best possible representations of all academic colleges and levels: Citrus is a community college, Cal Poly a California State University, and Azusa Pacific a private institution.

“We have physics from APU and physics from Citrus. We do this to give [the students] the best possible understanding of the resources that are available to them,” Hutchinson said.

The fair featured middle school-friendly activities to engage the students. At the Cal Poly physics booth, a teacher and his students attempted to throw a paper airplane into a wicker basket.

Center Middle School Assistant Principal Robert Velasco recalled the fair’s inaugural year and how the program has grown in size.

“Three years ago, [APU] did a pilot at our school. … We were sort of the guinea pigs,” Velasco said. “Since then, they’ve blown it up and made it a grand exposition of all these majors coming out and exposing our students to what they can possibly get into in college.”

According to Velasco, the fair has exposed students to majors that may lend themselves to the recently enacted common core standards that the federal government says aim to encourage and challenge students to become critical thinkers. Previously, educators were utilizing the California State Standards.

“With the exposure, hopefully they see that there are opportunities and hopefully one day, they get accepted into a two-year or four-year college and take on their dreams,” Velasco said.