Fenton Counselors - Bicycle Tour of IL Colleges

Fenton Counselors Complete Bicycle Tour of Illinois' Colleges
Fenton counselors ride bikes completing tour of Illinois' collegesMACOMB, IL – A group of high school counselors seeking to give their students firsthand advice about Illinois' colleges pedaled into Macomb Tuesday afternoon as part of a unique fact-finding mission. 

The group of seven ended a three-day, 170-mile bicycle tour of regional colleges and universities with their arrival at Western Illinois University. 

The bicyclists were hosted by staff from the WIU Admissions Office, and their visit included a campus tour, a reception with several WIU deans and administrators and Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and meetings with campus staff. 

The trip was organized by Fenton High School counselors Paul Welsh and Sarah McDougal. Other cyclists included Chicago International Charter School – Ralph Ellison Academic College Counselor Miles Katz, of Chicago; independent college counselors Beth McLaughlin, of Fort Atkinson, WI, and Tiffany Kolb, of Lyndon Station, WI; high school counselor Merle Wilder, of Belleville East High School; and Legal Prep Charter Academy Director of College Counseling David Bennett. 

Welsh and McDougal have previously taken part in a similar trip that visited various colleges and universities across the country. 

"We wanted to provide the opportunity for Illinois counselors to see the schools their students attend," said McDougal. "This gives in-state schools a chance to be highlighted, and it's important for us to learn about these schools."

The cyclists were on a quest to learn what is unique about the WIU campus. 

"We want to give the schools an opportunity to showcase what they can offer our students," said Welsh. 

Katz said he was using the trip as a chance to improve his knowledge of Illinois schools and to train for the Chicago Marathon at the same time. He said he was struck by the hospitality of the staff at each school.

"I had not been to any of the four schools we visited and our students apply to all of them," he said. "It's something unique. The knowledge we gained will be helpful to our students." 

Wilder said he jumped at the chance to take the bicycle trip because it combines two of his loves, cycling and counseling students on their college choice. 

"Each summer, I try to visit several colleges and I love cycling, so this was a no-brainer for me," he said.

The WIU visit was coordinated for the University by Regional Admissions Counselor Shawn Wochner. 

WIU Interim Admissions Director Jason Woods spoke with each of the cyclists Wednesday night at the reception and talked about programming at WIU. 

"This was an opportunity to showcase not only WIU, but the Macomb community as well," said Woods. "It's also a chance to show all the resources our campus can offer students."

Woods rode his bicycle Wednesday morning to escort the bicyclists as they left town. 

Thursday morning the cyclists began their ride back to Peoria, where the trip began. Welsh said the hope is to make the Illinois Admission for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) Bike O'Fun a bi-annual event for counselors from around the state. 
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