College Field Trips
On July 29 and July 30, Youth Spirit Artworks took 6 youth to look at Colleges in Northern California. The youth visited Sacramento State and UC Davis the first day as well as Dominican University and Sonoma State the second day. The goal was to get youth excited about secondary education and empower them to take the next steps in applying.
The idea to explore different colleges came from our youth. YSA is a youth led organization and designs its program initiatives based on input from our participants. Many wanted to see potential colleges, but their parents worked, were sick, or lacked the money to take them.
The college tours also set the stage for YSA’s fall work. Our organization partners with the Berkeley Unified School District to implement the 2020 Vision plan. This is an initiative to see the achievement gap between African American and Hispanic students closed with their white classmates. One factor standing in the way is the socioeconomic disadvantages that our youth described above. YSA used its resources to plan a small field trip, model a healthy family-like activity, and foster more discussions between the youth and their parents about college. The primary intention was to provide more information about college through experiential learning and let the youth direct their next steps.
The post-trip evaluations show the youth felt more motivated to pursue secondary education. This was a change from before the trip.
In one case, a youth talked about his parents discouraging him from college, so the youth would stay close by. Neither of the parents went to college. The youth pushed back, saying he at least wanted to visit some schools. He had worked really hard to get A’s and B’s at Berkeley High School. The visit gave him the confidence to tell his parents he would definitely apply to college, which school, and why.
The youth said, “What I loved best was Sonoma State University. I definitely loved the school. The campus was beautiful, there were interesting majors, and the housing was nice. I loved how it was so open and not as big as I expected. I for sure want to apply to Sonoma. The people were so nice and outgoing. All the information the guide gave was interesting and helpful.”
Having specific things to tell a parent about the school helped the parents see a youth was serious about college. They could see the excitement that came from the trip and it resulted in them becoming more supportive. Really close family relationships will make it hard being away from home, but now all feel more comfortable it will be for the best.
Another youth also echoed this new commitment; “I feel more determined to keep moving forward with my college plans. I liked the tours around the college campuses. It really gave me a chance to become more engaged.” This youth had previously visited Sacramento State for a summer camp celebrating Hispanic heritage, but had really only seen the grounds. Talking to the heads of clubs, work study program directors, librarians and students, the youth saw a real possible future pursuing Education/Psychology there.
The youth found it helpful to visit colleges because it confirmed scholarships could make education affordable, and college was accessible: “I liked the presentation about getting in without a good GPA.” The youth elaborated, “I feel more courageous about taking on college because they made it seem less stressful. Now I really feel college is a smart option. Everything was really cool.”
Across the board, youth felt positively about their experiences:
• “Everything was nice and organized;”
• “there was nothing I disliked;”
• “I liked the kindness and attitudes… I loved how the guide greeted us and made sure we understood what she was talking about;”
• “I felt like this was a great thing to do. I can’t wait to do another one.”
The youth definitely felt empowered by the college trips. Youth Spirit Artworks hopes to take the last suggestion seriously: “I would love to do another one, longer and overnight!”
*gender pronouns are intermixed in this project summary to keep anonymity.