First Graders Applying To College?

You're never too young to start thinking about the future.

Applying to college is hard. It's stressful and expensive, and the more last minute it is, the more stressful it will be. But what if we had started thinking about it long before the SATs? The video above tells the story of a teacher in North Carolina who aims to do just that for her students.


The first graders of Johnsonville Elementary School in Harnett County are getting an eleven year head start when it comes to applying to college. 

"I definitely want to talk about universities, and what a degree is, and what is college," Kelli Rigo, their teacher, said in the video. 

"I want them to be able to start having that conversation with anybody, whether it's another kid in the classroom or it's somebody in their family just to kind of get the thought process going."


Rigo started her "College Project" 4 years ago. According to the video, she was talking to her young daughter who, at the time, was playing under a table. Rigo tried to explain to her what college meant, and the young girl thought that it meant jail. It was then that Rigo decided that her daughter should start learning about college, and so should her 6-year-old students. 

One of the things that the program encourages is an interest in a specific school. Rigo explains in the video, "I think if they don't pick a specific college it's not real to them." She even goes as far as to have them fill out a basic college application that includes their name, address, and even major. This way, the idea of a college application isn't completely foreign to them when it comes time to actually apply.

Rigo's efforts seem to be working. In the video, her adorable first graders' share their thoughts on what college is all about. 

"College is a place where you have to go before you get a job," one says. "If you don't go to college you won't get a good job. If you do go to college you'll get a really good job and have a really good family."

So how much should college cost? 

"I think it should be, like, 10 dollars," one child says. But, don't forget, "You can't really spend all of your money, 'cause you have to have some money so that you can pay for your lunch... And your breakfast."

Very true.

Rigo's ultimate goal isn't just for students to become familiar with the names of colleges and comfortable with the thought of applying to them. "I want them to understand that they can be whatever they want," she says in closing. Which is a message no one is ever too young to hear.