Lane Tech takes students to Truman College to explore City Colleges


Katie Ratke

A tour guide shows students one of the automotive technology classrooms at Truman College

By Katie Ratke, Reporter

From rolling up your sleeves and fixing old cars, to styling intricate hairstyles, hands-on learning in the trades is as exciting as ever at Truman College. 

During March, Counselor Erin Driesbach organized two field trips to help students explore post-graduation options. The first trip, to Truman College on March 10, was an all-day experience called “Truman Experience Day,” that allowed students to learn about three different programs: Teach Chicago Tomorrow, Cosmetology/Barbery and Automotive Technology. 

This trip focused on showing students the many benefits that Truman College has to offer, such as the STAR scholarship (which covers full tuition for any CPS student with a 3.0 GPA or higher), individualized career and transfer services, dual enrollment for high school students, proximity to public transit, numerous sports (which give students a tuition waiver) and clubs, as well as a welcoming campus atmosphere. 

The event started out with an introductory speech from Kisalan Glover, Truman’s Director of Enrollment Management, before splitting students into two groups to tour the campus’s many different buildings. This unique feature sets Truman apart from many of the other City Colleges of Chicago, whose classes are concentrated in a single building.

Glover’s main emphasis was making students aware of the ability to have a college experience at Truman. 

“When we talk about the college experience, that’s pretty much what Truman hangs their hat on,” Glover said in an interview. “The culture that’s built here, the relationship we have with the community, and so all the while that you’re here taking courses, you are also engaged in and throughout the community whether that be bike rides, charitable giveaways, street fairs; I’m a firm believer that that’s where a lot of the learning goes on.” 

High schools across the city see the value in getting their students acquainted with Truman’s college experience, as they see roughly 350 students a week on field trips, according to Glover. 

Truman’s most popular programs by enrollment are Cosmetology and Automotive Technology, according to Glover.  The hands-on aspect of both of the programs provides the ability to practice the skills learned in classes which helps draw many students to the program.

“I think it [the program’s popularity] has a lot to do with the job placement and the job readiness compared to some of the other auto programs in and throughout the city,” said Glover.

The longest part of the walking tour was through the cosmetology wing, which seemed to generate the most student interest from Lane students. Students got to speak with a cosmetology teacher and watch students in class working on their final exam, which showcased many of the styling techniques they had learned. 

“I think our cosmetology program is extremely popular in that there is a business aspect to it as well as you learn the styling and that side of it,” Glover said.

Senior Tattiana Jenkins was especially interested in the Cosmetology program at Truman. 

“I’m looking for something short that I can just do after graduation so I’m not so stationary, instead of taking a gap year. It would be something productive that I could do instead before I make a final decision on whether to go to college,” said Jenkins. 

Jenkins expressed her desire for Lane to keep planning field trips like this for its students.

“It exposes you to what’s out there, like you always get, ‘oh go to the big schools with the high tuition and all that,’ but it’s important to have low-end options too for people that accommodate more to them,” she said. 

Lane counselors do not solely focus on helping students prepare to attend a four-year college. According to Driesbach, in recent years there has been an increase in students at Lane and around the nation who are interested in community college vocational programs and trade schools, especially with the STAR scholarship offering the opportunity for students to graduate debt-free, and Lane counselors are happy to help these students explore and achieve their career goals. 

“I think in general people feel at Lane that there is a culture of expecting you to go to a four-year college, so I think overall in our country, we talk about four-year schools as if it’s the only path that’s a good path for students, and the Chicago City Colleges really do offer a wealth of opportunities for Lane students,” Driesbach said. “With this additional role here [as a Lane counselor], I’m really working on expanding students’ options outside of the four-year schools.”

Driesbach plans to do more in order to help students explore those options. 

“I brought in GEAR UP, which is a job training program and brings in more guest speakers,” Driesbach said. “We have some teachers here who didn’t go to college right away, so I think having them talk about what they did before college could be a great option as well.”

“I’m hoping to have more trips like this in the future and now with COVID — the new phase of COVID — I think we can get back to doing college trips in general too,” Driesbach said.