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Area high school students to gain a glimpse of the college classroom

February 20, 2019
Eric Beers, English teacher at St. James High School, will take a group of about 50 students in his advanced placement English Composition and English Literature courses on a field trip to visit CCU t

One area high school teacher wants to show his students what college classes are really like, and one academic department at Coastal Carolina University is happy to oblige.

Eric Beers, English teacher at St. James High School, will take a group of about 50 students in his advanced placement English Composition and English Literature courses on a field trip to visit CCU this Friday, Feb. 22, where they will sit in on composition and literature classes alongside CCU students.

Advanced placement (AP) courses, with curriculum designed and determined by the national College Board, offer college-level content and academic credit to high-performing high school students. Beers said his students are eager to learn firsthand how the material is handled in an authentic college classroom.

“The AP mantra is that these kids are supposed to be treated academically as second-semester college freshmen, and the rigor of our courses is supposed to be equivalent,” said Beers. “So both they and I are curious about details: What are the size of the classes? What’s the setting? How Socratic is it? How much technology is involved? What are course expectations?”

Joe Oestreich, professor and chair of the CCU Department of English, said he’s happy to welcome students into the classrooms to experience a taste of college for themselves. The visit will begin with a whole-group presentation, and then students will break into smaller groups to attend individual classes.

“I think they’ll see dynamic teaching and see that most of our classes are discussion-based instead of straight lecture,” said Oestreich. “I’m hoping the students will feel free to interact a little bit, to actually participate instead of watch from the sidelines.”

Oestreich also plans to offer students information about the discipline at CCU in general.

“I think they will be surprised to learn how varied the English major is, and also at the variety of careers an English degree can lead to. It’s not just about punctuation, and it’s not just reading classic texts, even though it is that,” he said. “It’s also writing essays and creative writing and linguistics and studying rhetoric and digital and new media.”

Beers said some of his students have siblings or friends who have gone off to college, but they have little sense of what actually happens in classes.

“A few have had exposure – they’ve been to visit a cousin or a brother on a weekend at college – but they have no idea of the formal nature of seeing campus in the light of the academic day or seeing a classroom in an academic atmosphere,” said Beers.

Both Beers and Oestreich are looking forward to the meeting of the student minds and hope the event is a start of a longer-term initiative. “I would hope there would be a way to make this a natural part of what we do,” said Beers.

A similar event was held earlier in February, during which more than 150 students from six Horry County schools visited the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies. Part of the event included seven micro-immersion experiences in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish led by CCU faculty, as well as campus tours and presentations on scholarship and study abroad opportunities.

Additional information:

coastal.edu/english