The University of North Texas (UNT) plays a pivotal role in shaping the dreams of eighth-grade students. Through the "Future Eagles" program, coordinated by UNT's Orientation and Transition Programs, a unique opportunity is provided to introduce young minds to the world of higher education. This program goes beyond offering a mere glimpse of college life; it aims to educate and inspire.

Brittany Landau, assistant director of Orientation and Transition Programs, explains, "The goal of the Future Eagles program is to introduce the idea of attending college to all eighth graders in the Denton Independent School District. We want to help these students start envisioning their future as college students."

Exploring The Eagle’s Nest
In October and November, around 2,500 Denton ISD eighth graders visit UNT to explore the campus. Each of the nine middle schools schedule a unique day for the visit, allowing students to have an experience tailored specifically to them. With each visit, UNT can expect close to 300 students.

Students are divided into seven "tracks" based on their future career or college interests. Throughout the day, they explore college life – involvement, affordability, lectures, and personal experiences. They learn about clubs, organizations, sports, and recreational activities. The Student Money Management Center addresses concerns related to the cost of college. Campus tours include visits to residence halls, the library, and a first-hand look at the recreational center. Students also participate in mock lectures, engage with a UNT Career Coach, and hear from current UNT students.

“This early exposure allows students to get a feel for what their college experience could be and lets them know that college is an option, no matter where they choose,” Landau said.

By the end of the day, the hope is that these eighth-grade students catch a glimpse of what their future could hold and see UNT as a part of that future.

Empowering Tomorrow’s Eagles
The Future Eagles program took flight in 2015 when Denton ISD and UNT created an exclusive partnership to get students in a college mindset. The Future Eagles program has evolved over the years and is likely to continue evolving as the student population changes.

“Future Eagles is one of my favorite programs,” Landau said. “Many of these students may never set foot on a college campus. We have the opportunity to provide them with an experience that many middle school students don’t get. We want these eighth graders to develop an affinity for the institution that is in their backyard.