For the first time since March 2020 when the pandemic brought to a halt in-person activities, GEAR UP 4 LA students are taking tours of local colleges and universities and discovering the academic and career opportunities available in their own backyard.
In November, ninth- and 10th-grade students across GU4LA schools began visiting Los Angeles Trade Technical College, East Los Angeles College, and Cal State L.A. to explore academic departments, career pathways, and campus life. Additional in-person college trips are planned for spring.
“I signed up for the field trip because I want to go to L.A. Trade Tech one day and I wanted to see my options,” freshman Diego Figueroa said. “I like that they took us around the campus and told us about the buildings and all the options that are available for us.”
College field trip experiences are offered to all GU4LA students to help develop a college-going mindset, demonstrate the benefits of higher education, and bring students into the college environment – often for the first time. Historical GU4LA data also shows that the amount of time a student spent visiting college campuses was related to higher rates of postsecondary enrollment.
“Many of our students may not be aware that they have a great school in their own backyard, so this offers an opportunity for students to be aware of what programs are available to them – academic and vocational,” said Larry Anaya, a transition teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School and Nava College Preparatory Academy. “We need to have more of these experiences for them to provide that awareness for them.”
During their guided campus tours, students learn about the admissions process, degree program options and career pathways, how to pay for college, college culture, and campus resources.
They interact with students and faculty and engage in hands-on activities to build a college and career growth mindset.
“I signed up because I wanted to learn about the opportunities available nearby,” freshman Ashley Vera said.
“I loved the field trip because I learned about scholarships and what I need for college,” freshman Jayson Vera added.
Virtual tours are also being offered to families to such higher education institutions as Los Angeles City College and Occidental College, allowing them to receive valuable information and ask questions.
“Increasing early college awareness is critical to a student’s postsecondary success,” GU4LA Program Manager Melisa Lauer said. “These in-person trips promote postsecondary interests and exploration and allow students to envision the type of college that best fits their goals and dreams. It’s an exciting and enriching opportunity that empowers students and their families to see what’s possible.”