On our Sixth (and second to last) day we got a chance to visit two more wonderful universities back in our home-state of Florida: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Florida State University. Both of these neighboring Universities in the state capital—Tallahassee—sit amidst beautiful landscapes including hills, greenery and unique architecture. Students of the 2018 Y College Tour had been eagerly waiting to visit these Universities and they were very excited to participate in guided tours at each institution that promised to answer all of their questions.
First we stopped at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), home of the Rattlers, a public, historically black university founded in 1887 and located on the highest geographic hill in Tallahassee. It is the 5th largest HBCU in the United States by enrollment and the only public HBCU in Florida. It is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, a state’s land grant university, and accredited to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. FAMU is also member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
During our tour of campus, teens were at awe to see the beautiful campus, excited to witness some student life, and happy to see that most of the fields of study they are interested in were represented at this institution. Despite all the walking up and down hills, students kept asking the right questions and communicating their future college goals and plans to our tour guides. They really wanted to figure out if FAMU was for them. And for many, it seemed like FAMU could be the right place. A student even said that the sense of community she got made her feel at home. Other students who were interested in pursuing different engineering careers were very intrigued and excited when learning about the FAMU-FSU Engineering School— a collaboration between the two institutions aimed at offering the best possible education and opportunities to students from both universities. Overall, Y College Tour students got a chance to experience what attending FAMU could look like for them and learned all about the requirements and opportunities to make it there!
Next we visited Florida State University (FSU) which was only a short 5 minute bus ride from FAMU. Such close proximity between institutions is a key highlight of these campuses and Tallahassee as a whole. FSU is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university with its primary campus on 1,391.54 acres (5.6314 km2). It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida founded in 1851and located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state. As with FAMU, majority of our Y College Tour students had been looking forward to visiting this university and were very happy to find out more about the wonderful opportunities available for them here.
Before our tour started we headed to the Student Union where the temporary cafeteria is presently located (while their main one is being rebuilt) to have lunch. To our surprise it was “Union Wednesday” so our teens were very lucky and excited to see student life in action! Some of the Divine 9 Black Sororities and Fraternities, multicultural, and other Greek Life and student organizations were engaging in their regular activities for a Wednesday afternoon. A student DJ played music, the student organizations danced and shared information, divine 9 fraternities and sororities strolled, and many students watched and joined in on the celebrations. So we stayed and participated for a little bit before we headed to lunch. It was so much fun many of our students didn’t want to leave. But after being reminded the purpose of the tour we all headed to lunch.
The tour of FSU was very special. It was provided by a unique department at the university: CARE, Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement. CARE operates “to provide equity and access to traditionally underrepresented students disadvantaged by virtue of educational and socioeconomic reasons.” FSU has only about 9% minority representation, thus having a center like CARE is very important for our students. Overall the center is dedicated to preparing, assisting, and guiding underrepresented students in adapting, learning to navigate, and succeeding in college and their future academic and professional endeavors. Our tour guide embodied the essence of CARE and she shared all the details about how FSU and CARE could mean academic success for our 2018 Y College Tour students. Our group was very excited to see that such a center existed and that FSU CAREd about their success. Additionally, they were happy to see that this institution had a lot of things to offer: from a movie theater to great dorms, plethora of centers and programs for students support (e.g., health and wellness, counseling, tutoring, student success, internships, works study, and much more), stellar academics, lively student life and social events, and wonderful athletic programs. Many of our students commented that this was one of their top universities and that they really looked forward to applying to both, FSU and CARE when their time came. Others were simply happy to learn more about FSU and potentially considering it in the future.
Before we left for the final lag of our tour, towards Tampa, we got a quick tour of the FSU athletic department where teens got to learn more about the athletic programs, as well as opportunities, services, and special support available for athletes attending this university. The tour included a visit to the FSU Football practice, training, and wellness facilities, a visit to the stadium and it culminated with a visit to the FSU store. This was definitely a treat for those interested in acquiring athletic scholarships to attend this (or any other) institution that may offer them. For everyone else, this tour offered a closer look and better understanding of the life of student-athletes. Overall, Day Six was filled with amazing learnings and great experiences that our students will take with them together with everything else gained throughout this tour.
Finally, on this Seventh Day of the 2018 Y College Tour, we completed a self-guided tour of the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. USF is a large, public 4-year university offering undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral level degrees. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.7 billion and is ranked 45th in the nation for research expenditures among all universities, public or private. Overall, the size and opportunities of this institution were a big surprise to many of our Y College Tour students as many of them didn’t know USF was such a large institution. Our visit here was short, still, students were able to visit some of the key buildings on site and witness student life in a regular day at USF. After the tour we ate lunch and visited a local mall before heading back to South Florida.
Overall, the tour was filled with highlights and wonderful experiences. Our 2018 Y College Tour students were amazing and took advantage of every single part of the itinerary. They really learned a lot and gathered all of the necessary information they will need in order to apply and get accepted to the colleges they desire. Additionally, they got many chances to learn about history and different cultures, visit important sites and cities, socialize and bond with one another, learn from their peers, and get a taste of the college experience. Now, as we ride the bus on our way back to the L.A. Lee YMCA Family Center, the teens get a chance to reflect, let the past seven days sink in, get some rest, and be excited about being back home and with their families. We know they are all ready to enjoy their last few days of Spring Break and applaud them for their commitment to their own growth and future success in dedicating their time-off school to this purpose. Each and every one of the 36 young bright minds on this tour are great examples of being the dream, planning and preparing for it, and we know they will be successful.
We now close this chapter and look forward to the next tour. THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING US AROUND AS WE TRAVELED THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES IN SEARCH OF COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES FOR OUR FUTURE GIANTS!