McKinleyville High School Seniors sit in on an Organic Chemistry class at HSU for College Chats after getting a tour of the campus during the 2018-2019 school year.

Building Relationships Through ‘College Chats’

Incoming Students Learn the Ins and Outs of College Life
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The Humboldt County Office of Education is hosting Zoom sessions for high school and College of the Redwoods students, parents and anyone interested in learning more about HSU programs.

These events are usually held in person every year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now happening online on Wednesdays from 12–12:45 pm.

Jim Ritter is the HCOE College Connect Coordinator and the main host of the sessions.

“College Chats are meant to be casual, and give students an opportunity to learn about subjects on the university level,” Ritter said.

Ritter explained how College Chats can help students start to build relationships with HSU professors whom they might have a class with someday.

“I think it is important for high school students to get accurate information about what they can expect in college,” Ritter said. “A really good way to do that is for the students to speak directly to professors and lecturers who teach in different majors. College Chats are perfect for helping this happen.”

Even though these events are usually held in person each year, there are still positives that have come out of the situation. It has allowed students and parents from all over the community to join the meetings. The first event held on February 3 focused on kinesiology and was attended by students from Hoopa, Academy of the Redwoods, Arcata and Six Rivers High School.

Every week there is a new HSU faculty member joining as a guest based on different majors. For the first session Justus Ortega, kinesiology department chair, joined to talk about his subject of teaching.

“[College Chats] allow students and the department to discuss solutions to some of the hardest and most pressing issues that people face today including racism, social injustice and food security,” Ortega said.

Jana Ashbrook is an Early Assessment Program Coordinator at HSU and the co-host of the events. She loves helping the students and cheering them on by sharing tips.

“It seems the more time and experiences students get exploring and researching different careers and college majors, the more confident they feel in their college decision,” Ashbrook said.

After experiencing the first session, Ortega has learned that the events are valuable for both students and parents to not only learn about different majors offered but also build relationships throughout the HSU community.

“This event opened my eyes to each individual’s needs and concerns, and allows me to work with other faculty in our department, as well as other campus resources, to develop strategies that support each individual’s needs to achieve success and happiness at HSU,” Ortega said.

Spring Semester 2021 College Chat schedule, Wednesdays from noon–12:45 p.m. on Zoom:

• February 10 — HSU Psychology

• February 17 — NO CHAT, President’s Week

• February 24 — College of the Redwoods Nursing and Dental Programs. (This chat will run 1 hour from noon-1 p.m.)

• March 3 — HSU Theatre Arts, Film, & Dance

• March 10 — HSU Economics

• March 17 — HSU Native American Studies

• March 24 — HSU Art

• March 31 — HSU Geology

• April 7 — HSU Oceanography

• April 14 — NO CHAT, spring break

• April 21 — HSU International Studies

• April 28 — HSU Critical Race, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

• May 5 — HSU Child Development

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