Waukesha North UW colleges tour, 4 schools in 2 days

Imagine being a high school student picking a college and never setting foot on campus. A counselor at Waukesha North High School says that was happening all too often even before the coronavirus pandemic.

Every bell brings Sam Venegas, a Waukesha North junior, one step closer to graduation.

"I’m super excited for my future knowing that, possibly, one of these colleges could be something I’m super interested in," said Venegas.

She’s one of 50 students going on a whirlwind overnight college campus tour, visiting UW-Green Bay, Oshkosh, Stevens Point and La Crosse.

"There are so many kids who never have the opportunity," said Jill Werner, school counselor. "Parents can’t get off work. They don’t drive. They don’t have access to go do that."

Werner came up with the idea almost three years ago. She got $6,000 for Waukesha North through the Herb Kohl Fellowship to help cover costs and pay for students who can’t afford the $100 fee. The first group was set to leave in April  2020. COVID stopped the trip days before the tour began.

"Being a first-generation college student was like, this big moment for my family," said Noemi Pacheco-De La O.

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Pacheco-De La O was a freshman when the pandemic hit.  This is her first normal year of high school, and all she can think about is college.

"Could you imagine making this decision without going and visiting a campus?" asked FOX6's Bret Lemoine. 

"I’d be so confused," Pacheco-De La O said.

Green Bay Area Public School visits to UW-Green Bay only resumed last week.

"There’s nothing better than to be able to walk on campus, familiarize yourself with the programs offered, get a good visual of where you will be living in the dorm," said Rachele Bakic, UW-Green Bay executive director of admissions.

With North’s trip, there’s no pressure.  It’s all about finding the right fit.

"If going on this tour means they end up going to technical college because four-year colleges aren’t for them, that’s perfect.  That’s what it’s for," said Werner.

Students will leave north at 7 a.m. Thursday and return at 9 p.m. Friday. 

Leftover fellowship money will fund future college trips just like this one. Werner plans to rotate campuses each year.

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