Category Archives: College Tours

Education and Youth Services Takes Student Travel Groups from NYC on College Tours

by Howard Clemens

Many students from New York City’s five boroughs have never been outside of the city where they live.  Some have not stayed overnight in a hotel. Educational and Youth Services has organized college tours for students interested in attending college. These tours give prospective college students from under served communities a chance to leave the city for destinations like upstate New York, Boston or Washington D.C. These student travelers explore what it might be like to live outside New York City in an academic environment with their peers.

For many entering the workforce, a job is far more lucrative with foundational training.  Sandi Rosenthal is the Senior Director of Workforce Development at Education and Youth Services in New York. She has been working with the 16-24 age group for several years, helping them to decide between college, trade and tech schools, or full-time employment.

There are lots of opportunities right in New York City for trade and technical schools and employment.  “We do take students to City University of NY (CUNY) locally, all the time.  We also explore some of the better vocational programs, such as culinary and IT schools, to expose them to these types of professions,” said Rosenthal.  “These organizations train students and they earn a certificate rather than a degree.  Often these students are placed in jobs after completion of the programs, thanks to excellent job placement services,” added Rosenthal.

Then there are the students who perform well academically or have shown promise at the community college level and want to seek an advanced degree.  Like their peers, they need to reach out and tour college campuses, to get a feel for college life. But not all students have the time or resources to leave the city and travel. Nor do their parents, who struggle with the high cost of living in New York City – one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

So Education and Youth Services has designed a program to make sure these students have a glimpse of academic life. It’s already in its second year. “This year we are taking students to the State University of New York,” said Rosenthal.  “Choosing a college like SUNY gives those who want to attend a chance to leave New York City and they can still return to visit their families by bus or train.”   Student groups may also tour colleges in Boston and Washington D.C.. “On these types of student trips we expose them to colleges as well as some of the cultural sites in these historic cities,” commented Rosenthal.

A firsthand look at college life inspires many to begin the laborious college application process.  “Kids do apply to some of the schools they’ve actually visited,” says Rosenthal.  When students show an interest in a school, Workforce Development staff steps them through the long process of application forms and fees, SATs, and financial aid applications.   This oversight ensures that many who truly want a higher education have a chance to receive one.  “If students leave colleges they attended outside of NYC and come back home, we also work to help get them back into local colleges, taking them through the application process again,” said Rosenthal.

Workforce Development for Educational and Youth Services in New York City is a large organization. Before embarking on this project the organization put out a request for bids. Three to four organizations replied. Educational Travel Consultants (ETC) bid to design and execute these college tours was accepted. ETC is based in Hendersonville, North Carolina and has has been taking students on college tours for over five years. The educational travel company has designed college tours for specific areas of the U.S. and different types of colleges such as historically black colleges or Ivy League universities.  Often guidance counselors and teachers at the high school level will organize these college tours so students with academic aspirations have a chance to survey several colleges before making a choice about where to apply and attend.

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Eastern U.S. Explorer Tour the Ultimate Student Travel Experience for Chinese Students

The Eastern US Explorer tour is a great opportunity for Chinese students to tour the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. This tour is longer than most student tours, spanning a 10-12 day period, rather than just a four to seven days. The student tour was specifically designed for Chinese students to experience college tours of select U.S. universities, see cultural and historic sites in the Eastern United States and shop at some of the most desirable locations in New York City, Washington D.C. and other destination cities.   Encompassing everything from camping and outdoor activities to visits to Harvard and Yale to the glamour of NYC and Broadway, this is a fully integrated cultural immersion tour students are guaranteed never to forget.

Fully guided tours of NYC and Boston provide firsthand look at American history

The adventure starts in Boston, with a day scheduled at Thompson Island Outward Bound.  There, students will learn about the environment and experience the fun of the outdoors with the Trust and Self-Reliance program, which includes a ‘high ropes challenge’ and a ferry ride. Students will also take a guided tour of Boston’s Freedom Trail, which includes Boston Common, the State House, and the USS Constitution, famously known as ‘Old Ironsides.’ While in the Boston area, Chinese students will visit Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau, and spend an afternoon at Plymouth Plantation on a reproduction of the world famous Mayflower ship, on which the pilgrims crossed. These activities will expose them to unique aspects of American history.

From Boston and surrounding areas, students will travel to New York City. The guided tour of the Big Apple includes trips to Madison Square Garden, Chinatown, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, NBC Studios, Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the Empire State Building, and many other notable sites. Students will also experience the thrill of a night on Broadway, which includes dinner and a musical.

College Tours of Ivy League Universities and Top Name Schools

During the course of the trip, students will tour Harvard, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), New York University (NYU), Columbia University, and others. All tours include lunch and/or opportunities to sit in on classes.  A full portrait of the academic landscape is presented, including an opportunity to see what typical day-to-day life at various campuses is like. At Harvard, students will lunch with others in the freshman residence hall. At NYU, they will request to sit in on a business or women’s studies class. At Columbia University, they’ll attend a journalism or marketing class. And at Yale, they’ll have the opportunity to meet with the Yale-China Association and the SOM Program for Social Enterprise.

Exploring Humanitarian, Social, and Environmental Causes

Exposure to different aspects of existence is essential to education. So, students will have the opportunity to volunteer at a NYC soup kitchen or homeless shelter.  They will also volunteer at a retirement center or senior home. Interacting with others in these environments will provide students with a chance to see sides of American life that is not immediately visible to a traveler, and to develop a deeper appreciation for the value of service to others. Students will also visit Honey Brook Organic Farm in New Jersey, where they will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable living.

The final leg of the tour will be in Washington, D.C.—a visit that will include a full tour of the US Capitol. Student tour leaders will also be given the opportunity to schedule a visit with a U.S. Senator or Congressman, up close and in person.  And they’ll enjoy an Illuminated tour of Memorials and Monuments, which includes the Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam, World War II, and Korean memorials, among others. They will also visit the Supreme Court and the Smithsonian Museums, and may tour the White House, depending upon availability.

Chinese Student Travel in the U.S.

The U.S. Explorer Tour has been consistently described by students and educators as the ‘ultimate’ tour for students wanting to be introduced to America’s educational system, history, and culture. By being fully comprehensive and interactive, it has served to help students acclimate to U.S. culture more easily, and provided a vivid and unforgettable portrait of what academic and cultural life in the U.S. is like.

College Tours in the Mid South

By Howard Clemens

Since publishing an article about college tours of Southern universities and state colleges in Virginia I have fielded several inquiries about college tours for the Mid-south.  In response, I recently developed an itinerary designed for college bound high school juniors and seniors that focuses on colleges in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.  There are some excellent universities in each of these states. Students come from all over the United States and across the world to attend these well-known colleges.

A trip leader, usually a teacher or guidance counselor, brings a group of high school juniors and seniors on this type of tour. The student group has a chance to tour the campus, see residence halls, classrooms and student centers and speak to other students about the experience of attending college there. In the evenings, students usually have an opportunity to explore the town or city. This includes dining, shopping and entertainment near the university. It’s important that college bound students have a better feel for the town they will live in for four years or more.

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

Established in 1912 as the West Tennessee Normal School, the University of Memphis is now affectionately known as U of M and is the flagship school in the Tennessee Board of Regents system.  U of M enrolls about 22,000 students and is situated in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee.  Academic programs range from African & African American Studies to Banking and Financial Services and Correctional Administration, Dance, Environmental Engineering and Technology Management Services.  The campus is characterized by contemporary architecture, with the most recent building spurt occurring in the 1990s. 

University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN

Situated in the Appalachian city of Knoxville, University of Tennessee is the flagship school of the state university system. In 2012 Forbes magazine cited University of Tennessee as one of “America’s Best Colleges.”  The Princeton Review also listed UT as one of the “150 Best Value Colleges.”  UT is well known for the College of Arts and the Sciences and colleges of:  Business, Engineering and Law.    Approximately 25,000 students are enrolled full-time at the University of Tennessee.  The campus sits on a hill -offering a nice perspective of the Smoky Mountains and the City of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Named after the main benefactor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University was funded with an initial $1,000,000 donation in 1873.  The university serves approximately 12,000 full-time undergraduate and graduate students. Nearly 90% of all undergraduate students live on campus, creating a fun, community atmosphere in a picturesque setting. Undergraduate tuition in 2011/2012 is $40,000, reflecting the university’s private status.  Vanderbilt is best known for the MBA program and the School of Medicine. Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine and business programs have employed five Nobel Laureates.  U.S. News and World Report has ranked Vanderbilt University as 17th among the best national universities.

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

The University of Alabama was founded in 1831 and is the state’s first public university, serving over 31,000 students annually. It has been cited by Kiplinger’s annual list of colleges and universities as one of the top 100 schools that offers “great academics and affordable tuition.” UA has been ranked in the top 50 in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings for 10 years.  In the last 9 years, over 40 new facilities have been added or upgraded, giving the campus a contemporary look and feel, while retaining the original buildings from the 19th Century.  UA is known for the School of Law and Engineering and the debate and forensics programs have won 16 national debate championships.  Tuscaloosa was formerly the capital of Alabama and is a city of approximately 90,000 people with much to offer the college student who resides there.

Auburn University, Auburn AL

Founded in 1856 as an all male school, Auburn University is now co-ed.  There are approximately 25,000 students enrolled and 140 degree programs to choose from.  The university is known for its agricultural studies, Teacher Education and Wildlife Sciences programs.  The town of Auburn has a population of approximately 40,000 people and is only 50 miles from Montgomery, Alabama and 115 miles from Atlanta, Georgia.  Auburn  is bike friendly and offers a wide variety of places to eat and things to do.

University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

The University of Kentucky is located in Lexington, a bustling mid-sized Southern city of just under 300,000 people.  The university currently has 28,000 students enrolled and is the flagship land-grant institution of Kentucky.  Known for the college athletics football and basketball teams, the Wildcats, UK’s colors are blue and white and the student body and community enthusiastically support their beloved teams.  UK’s most popular fields of study are: Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics and Agriculture.  For in-state students, the tuition is still very affordable, at approximately $8,000 for undergraduates for one academic year.

This is the suggested itinerary for the Mid South College Tour. Trip leaders can request variations of this tour, which can be easily modified. For example, when a student group visits University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, a trip leader may want to exercise the option to visit Alabama State University in Montgomery. Or, when groups visit Vanderbilt University in Nashville, they may also want to visit Fisk and Tennessee State Universities.

College tours are a great way to inspire college bound high school students to begin thinking about and planning where they want to obtain their degrees.

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