When Yucaipa High School’s AVID students wanted to learn more about state colleges and universities, they didn’t just search the Internet. They went on a college road trip.
A caravan of vehicles, carrying 53 juniors plus teachers, recently hit the state’s freeways on a three-day trip, stopping at seven colleges and universities and driving by three more to give students an up-close and personal look at the college experience.
“We want to get them out there and see what all of their options are,” said Tana De Leon, AVID coordinator.
Junior Lily Martinez said she would definitely recommend the trip to other students. “You get to see the colleges firsthand,” she said. ”It’s not just a picture on a website.”
De Leon has been working with the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program for about eight years. She said this year’s junior group was the largest since she has been at YHS.
“Typically, the AVID student’s parent is a minority, or their parent didn’t go to college,” said De Leon. “Going to college involves a lot of work … We help them navigate that system.”
Part of that process is visiting colleges in person. De Leon and her team of YHS teachers choose the colleges to visit themselves.
“We pick them. We try to pick a big school, a small school, a state school, a private school,” she said. “We try to have a variety.”
First stop on the trip in early March was Cal State University, Fresno. The Last stop on the trip was UC Santa Barbara. Other tours included Cal State University Stanislaus, UC Davis, San Francisco State University, Cal State Monterey Bay and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Drive-by visits to at least expose students to the location and look of the campus included UC Merced, Cal State Sacramento and University of San Francisco.
To help students feel more comfortable at the colleges and make the experience more personal, De Leon asks Yucaipa High graduates who attend that particular college to give the tour. She contacts them through Facebook, texts and emails.
“It was good to get all of the information from a student perspective,” said Martinez. “It was better to hear about it (college) from someone who is going through that right now.”
One of those YHS graduates is Martinez’s sister, Blanca Davis. Davis attends CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, about an hour and half southeast of San Francisco. She will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a concentration in development.
“It was really fun seeing her and seeing all the other girls because I haven’t seen them in so long,” said Davis, about taking her sister and other Yucaipa students on this year’s tour. She also gave a tour to her brother Roman when he went on the trip with YHS a couple of years ago.
When she was at Yucaipa High, Davis was an AVID student and went on the college road trip with De Leon. That’s how she ended up at CSU Stanislaus. She had never been to Turlock before her AVID trip.
“I fell in love with it,” said Davis of CSU Stanislaus. “It’s really beautiful here. It’s very green, there are lots of trees and ponds.”
“I think it’s important for them to have lots of open doors,” said De Leon, who takes juniors on the college road trip because that is when students start to seriously look at where they want to apply for college.
“Some of them comeback, and they thought they wanted to go away, but now they don’t really want to go that far away,” De Leon said.
Martinez said her favorite college was Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“I liked the location and its size,” she said. “I could just see myself being there. It wasn’t too intimidating, like UC Davis.”
In 2014, UC Davis had a student enrollment of more than 35,000, while Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s enrollment just topped 20,000.
Martinez said she wants to apply to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
According to De Leon, Yucaipa High AVID students “have about a 95 percent acceptance rate to four-year colleges.”
“Then, they can make the decision to go or not,” she said.
Not only did the trip include college tours, but the students also did a little sightseeing. They went to the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and went to the State Capitol in Sacramento.
Although they did fundraising before the trip, the AVID program did not raise enough money to cover the cost of it. AVID students will be doing more fundraising, but anyone interested in donating to the program can do so through Yucaipa High School. Donations can be made out to YHS AVID, send checks to Yucaipa High School, attention AVID, or drop checks off at the activities office. Yucaipa High School is at 33000 Yucaipa Blvd.