What do 40 teenagers on a weeklong bus trip have in common? We believe it’s their determination, ambition and sense of hope as they prepare for their future. These teens, who are part of the YMCA RAISE/Achievers program, recently joined Y staff on a college tour.
RAISE/Achievers is a career awareness and mentoring program at the Y. The program aims to expose teens to a wide range of career opportunities, develop goals, instill self-esteem and enhance leadership skills. Many of the students involved will be first generation college students. The program has a great success rate. In 2016, 11 of the students graduated high school and 100% went on to college. The annual college tour trip has turned in to a highlight for the students each year.
This year the group visited eight college campuses including Kentucky State, Fisk University, Vanderbilt University, Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Alabama State University and Jackson State University.
The students were asked to compare each college in a detailed spreadsheet. They evaluated cost per year, ACT/SAT score requirements, financial aid information, application process and campus life details. The students can use the information to make decisions on where they want to attend college when they’re ready.
“The college tour helps these students to understand the culture and environment on campus,” said Tamica Fricks, YMCA Program Coordinator and tour chaperone. “College brochures only give the students a small fraction of needed information. The college tour allows students to find the best fit for them and help them get excited about their future.”
One student shared the following: “Alabama State had a great atmosphere that I did not expect. I'm really glad I attended the college tour. College never seemed like a real possibility until I went on this trip and saw it first hand.”
Parents even see the benefits of the tour. “My son is excited now about college. He came home filling out college applications,” said Kandi Crowe, parent.
The cost of the trip was partially subsidized through donations from generous sponsors including Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Charo Young, Dionne Edergston, Dr, Tiffany Sago, Tim Smith, Teisha Childs- Gilbert, Kandi Crowe, Northwest Community Center, Alberta Walker Tax Services, Joann Fricks, and Mike Hodges.
The students are grateful for the opportunity.
“I never could have afforded to go on a trip like this and see so many colleges. I'm thankful to Tamica and the Y for giving me this opportunity.”