Most students don't start planning for college until they're in high school, and James Rutter Middle School wants to change that.
The school on Thursday opened its College, Career, Community Resource Center–a room adjacent to the library where students and parents can come to get information about universities, vocational schools and more.
"To be ready for today's global economy, more kids have to be ready early on," Principal Yuri Penermon said. "Many kids, when they get to high school have made mistakes. When the light bulb goes on, it may be too late."
School staff members wore shirts bearing the names of their college alma matters, and representatives from Sacramento State, UC Davis and the University of the Pacific were on hand.
Michelle Dyke, Director of UC Davis' Early Academic Outreach Program, said colleges could probably start reaching out to students even before they're in middle school.
"Students who participate in these programs are more likely to meet the requirements for college," Dyke said.
Her program talks to students about the importance of a college education, uses games to teach kids about the benefit of a college degree, and takes eighth-graders on a field trip to UC Davis.
Dyke said a UC Davis staffer will be at James Rutter once a month, and the school is hoping to get undergraduate students to come staff the center as well.
Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Tony Perez said he'd like to see more schools with career centers, and for that matter, health clinics.
"During the golden age, we had career centers," Perez said. "Full, comprehensive services–that's what we need."
James Rutter's college and career center is funded by a $7,500, five-year grant from California GEAR UP.