Over the last few days 36 unique and amazing teens have been excited to visit new places and see possibilities for their future, awakened to the realization that they are part of a very rich history that consistently calls up on them to continue to build the future they dream of, and that to get there, they need to plan ahead and understand the processes to do so. They have also gotten chances to recognize in themselves important and necessary qualities and skills that will help them get to their goals, as well as to discover some of the shortcomings that they will have to work on and overcome in order to do so. And they have also been challenged to define realistic ways in which to set their plans into action, how to take advantage of their available opportunities, resources, and networks, and how to think and see beyond what they know in order to develop and grow into the leaders of tomorrow. This is how the Y College Tour inspires them to be the dream and make it happen!
On Day Four we visited two different colleges that despite looking and being organized differently, each offered many great opportunities to any student who attends there. In the morning, we toured the Louisiana State University (officially Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, commonly referred to as LSU), a public coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and house to many renowned academic and athletic programs. Two of our students, Simone Henry and DiAvian Williams noted that LSU’s track team is very well known and that they too would be interested in attending this university if they could get scholarships for their athletic program. In general, many of the Y College Tour students really liked the large campus, large student body, and large stadium which sits a little over 102,000 people! LSU school ambassadors walked us through the campus and answered our students’ questions about admissions requirements and process, student life, scholarship and internship opportunities, student residences, transportation, and campus security. Overall our group was very engaged and interested in learning what such a large University had to offer—even those a bit overwhelmed by the student body figure of 40,000 kept an open mind. After the tour we ate lunch at the LSU Student Union and visited their bookstore before we left for our second location.
For our afternoon tour we visited Southern University and A&M College (often referred to as Southern University, Southern, SUBR or SU). This historically black university (HBCU) in the Scotlandville area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana—the Scott’s Bluff campus—overlooks the Mississippi River and encompasses 512 acres. There is an additional 327-acre agricultural experimental site, five miles north of the main campus. The university is the largest HBCU in Louisiana and member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the flagship institution of the Southern University System. Our student ambassador shared that although this school was much smaller than LSU, it offered many opportunities for student development, support, and socialization. Also, that due to its size, the smaller classes (e., lower professor-to-student ratio), and student-focused opportunities, this university offered a great sense of community.
On our way back to our hote l to spend free time, the chaperones decided to surprise the teens with an impromptu stop for some traditional New Orleans beignets at a beautiful café in City Park called Morning Call. After the scenic and tasty stop we went back to the hotel for an evening of camaraderie, discussing the importance of understanding and respecting people and each other, playing board games, swimming at the pool, and/or watching movies. In the end, the first day of college tours in the New Orleans area proved to be a very exciting, educational, and cultural day.