The College Simulation Experience takes hands-on approach to reversing college dropout rate

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Gearing up for the school year can be a scary experience, regardless of the grade level.

Mix new environments, classrooms, responsibilities, demands, friends and overall new experiences together and that recipe could be easily overwhelming and intimidating - particularly for teens headed to college. 

In addition to the new responsibilities, tough work load, and independence, college students face a series of social and emotional pressures that make their day-to-day realities even more challenging - especially during freshman year. 

College Atlas reports, 30% of college freshman drop out after their first year of college.

But why? Research shows, retention percentages are affected by more than just the presence of financial support. 

The College Simulation Experience is a local collaborative effort working to curb this statistic by filling those emotional, social and preparatory voids. These workshops give pre-collegiate students, ranging from 8th grade to college freshmen, the necessary hands-on tools and experiences they need to thrive. 

It's a solution that stemmed from founder April Baskin's real life drop-out experience. 

"I realized that for me, dropping out had very little to do with finances, I wasn't prepared. Mentally, emotionally, I was overwhelmed by the realities and independence that came so quickly," Baskin said. 

By design, The College Simulation gives students the opportunity to take on the role of first-time college students in a fun and interactive game-like environment.

"It's like a game of monopoly," Baskin said. "Our students are timed as they navigate challenges on their own, just like they will come freshman year. From finding classes and figuring out the campus, to figuring out which office to go to for help and juggling work study, to buying books and financial aid, they have limited time, because that's the real world," she continued.

During this 3 hour workshop, students interact with facilitators who play the role of actors, it's a safe test environment where they can ask questions and get answers without consequence.

The College Simulation Experience has serviced 1,912 students in Erie and Niagara County through partnerships with colleges, high schools, and community-based organizations and have awarded $3,500 in scholarships.

For more information on their other workshop experiences and upcoming seminar conference, visit their website.

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