For high-achieving students who are also first-generation, low-income students, college tours may be unattainable, which is an incredibly big disadvantage going into the college application process. A Bridge for Kids has made it possible for students like us this summer to get to know everything from class sizes to the surrounding community of the colleges that we are interested in.
The first school that we headed to was the University of California Irvine (UCI). Being a UC school, it was a school that was on all of our lists. One of the things our tour guide pointed out was how the school was shaped as a circle with a park right in the middle, making it very easy to navigate through. The colorful buildings covered in bright yellow and blue also made it stand out from the other schools we later toured. To our surprise, only some of us came out of the tour and were able to see ourselves there one day. To us, learning that certain schools may not suit us and our desired educational endeavors was just as valuable as finding schools we loved.
The second stop of our trip was University of California, Los Angeles, also known as UCLA. This was the one school we were all looking forward to. UCLA is a very well-known university and at the top of many students’ list. Through our tour of UCLA with a current enrolled student (an A Bridge for Kids alumni from Castle Park High School), we were all exposed to the atmosphere of the university. We explored the food court as well as popular spots many students hang out in. We learned about the unique traditions UCLA has and were able to learn firsthand what it is like to attend UCLA and determine if we still saw ourselves there. We gained knowledge about all the programs and the help offered throughout the entire school year. It was an unforgettable experience.
On our third morning, we woke up and travelled to Pomona College. Although not a very well-known school, it is a school that the majority of our group was extremely eager to see in person. First, we sat through an information session at Pomona College, and then took the tour. After this, we went to a local pizza shop and had delicious pizza! Following this, we went over to Claremont McKenna College for an information session and a tour. We all really enjoyed the interconnected aspect of the Claremont Colleges, which gives students far more accessibility and opportunities than other liberal arts colleges. Overall, seeing the Claremont Colleges, specifically Pomona and Claremont McKenna, in person definitely validated our interest in the schools, and definitely led all of us to want to pursue the schools further.
While we visited additional schools along the way, as a whole, the trip was more than just running around campuses. There was a theme of freedom and exploration throughout the trip. We were allowed to pick our own meals and activities. Whether it be grabbing a burger at In-and-Out or spending hours at a Korean Barbeque, we decided what to do as a group. We had the opportunity to go to the movies, go swimming, and go exploring in the surrounding neighborhoods. The freedom of activities was an exciting aspect we did not expect, but were lucky to have. It was a new experience to travel with peers and evaluate colleges together, a perspective not always readily available when traveling with family. The smaller sized group also allowed us to form deeper connections to follow us beyond these 4 days.
This was a trip of first times and timeless memories. Thank you to EVERYONE who made this possible.
Susan Fallas- Gompers Prep, Class of 2019
Vivian Tran- Hover High School, Class of 2020
Bonnie Nguyen- Patrick Henry, Class of 2019
Vani Sharma- Mira Mesa High School, Class of 2019
Pablo Anton- Helix Charter, Class of 2019
Tyler Hicks- Steele Canyon High School, Class of 2019