In early April, SAYA took 39 high school sophomores and juniors to Philadelphia to visit several colleges. During the trip, youth took tours and listened to talks at Franklin & Marshall College, St. Joseph’s University, Swarthmore College, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania. The trip, which lasted three days and two nights, provided SAYA youth the chance to see and experience several schools that they otherwise may not have visited on their own.
By Kathy, 11th grade
What I like about Temple is how comfortable the campus seems. Because it’s set in an urban area, students have access to the city and many activities that aren’t directly involved with the university. After speaking with members of the school’s Diversity Center, I learned that Temple works hard to build understanding among the student body. I also learned that Temple has many resources for students who are struggling academically, or aren’t as advanced as others. They provide lots of support options for students who need them. We also learned that Temple University began from nighttime tutoring sessions between a professor and several students, which is why the Temple mascot is the night owl.
I was really excited to hear that the Diversity Center offers students the chance to discuss and understand social issues happening on campus, which I think would make me feel safer and open to new ideas and opinions. And fun fact: the center prefers to call safe spaces “brave spaces,” because they believe that this terminology is a more fitting title.
By Laiba, 11th grade
It was great to visit the University of Pennsylvania, since I learned so much about the school that I would not have otherwise. For example, I learned that there are many different organizations across campus that are there to help students better understand the choices available to them, in terms of majors or internships. One group that we visited with was the Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC), which provided students a cozy house with a lounge and space to work, relax, or seek out advice. GIC was a great place for students from different cultures or backgrounds to mix and become friends. Hearing members speak about their own experiences, majors, and challenges was so interesting. One of the students spoke about how he initially came to college to build things, but soon decided to switch his major to electrical engineering. Since I am also interested in building things, hearing him helped me see that there are lots of different types of engineering majors that I can look into. Touring campus was interesting too, because of all the history that I learned, including the fact that Benjamin Franklin founded the school. This trip showed me that UPenn is a very interesting school that provides many different majors - I definitely want to apply when I get a chance.
By Byron, 11th grade
Our visit to Swarthmore was a very pleasant one. The college is a private liberal arts school, and I liked that the campus was so small and provided quick and easy access to all the buildings. In addition, the smaller number of students means that they have more one-on-one time with professors. On our tour, we saw many of the places we would spend our time if we attended, including the various libraries. We also had chance to explore the fine arts building, where all kinds of performances, from dance to theater, are held.
One thing I enjoyed learning about the college was that they seriously encourages students to socialize, and not to only focus on academics (although it is a big part). The school even has a program that picks applicants at random and provides them $20 and a ticket to Philadelphia, so they can explore the city. They also didn't seem to shy away from helping their students find their desired programs, even if that meant sending them to another school.
The second part of our tour was meeting members of the Intercultural Center, and hearing all about what they do at Swarthmore. They explained to us how they organize events to help minority students become better adjusted, and spoke about their own experience and how finding this group helped them tremendously. As a person of color who lives in a very diverse area, I was a little shocked hearing about their experience. However, I appreciated this advice as I now have a better understanding of what to expect when I attend college, wherever I end up. I loved my experience touring this school, and I'm definitely going to apply.