From the Field: College Trips

Contributed by Arden Schraff, DC Metro Achievement Fellow – Brookland

Bright and early on Friday July 28th, DC Metro Higher Achievement Centers participated in field trips to nearby colleges and universities. As we prepare Middle School students around DC, Baltimore, and Richmond for a successful High School experience, it is also important to Higher Achievement’s mission of empowering youth to introduce scholars to the opportunities of higher education. After the closing of Summer Academy in 2021, Higher Achievement’s College Field Trip opportunities are the best way to engage with and provide mission moments for our scholars during the summer months when we do not see them regularly.

This year, our students visited four different colleges, with our largest group (40 scholars) commuting out to Temple University. As scholars from Ward 4, 5, 6, and 7 boarded the bus to Philadelphia, the scholars of Ward 1 and Greenbelt visited Bowie State University, Ward 8 traveled to University of Maryland, and Alexandria took a tour of George Washington University’s Campus here in DC Metro.

As a Higher Achievement AmeriCorps Fellow partnered with Brookland Middle School, I chaperoned the field trip to Temple University. When we arrived in Philadelphia, scholars experienced dining like a college student in the Johnson & Hardwick Dining Hall. Lucky for our field trip group, DC’s Director of Program Operations, Bri Wallington Ferguson, accompanied us to her alma mater and encouraged scholars to ask her about her experience as a student at Temple University. Before the group met up with an official Temple University Tour Guide, Ms. Bri and fellow center-staff led scholars in a KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) activity. Scholars explained what they already knew about Temple, while also identifying what kinds of questions they would want to ask our tour guide or Ms. Bri on the tour.

The KWL activity led the group into a question-filled tour around Temple’s city-campus. In between air conditioning breaks in nearby buildings across campus, scholars asked our tour guide specific questions about picking classes, finding a dorm, requirements for admission to Temple, and how the University came to be in the first place. On top of the tour, scholars had the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt Ms. Bri created to highlight different buildings we saw, like the Charles Library, and encouraged scholars to look up information about the school, such as learning the T for Temple U fight song and performing it in front of the Bell tower. Competition between the scholars was fierce as everyone raced to take pictures in front of certain buildings and record videos of themselves with scholars they met from other centers. In the end, recent Ward 4 HA alumnus Soleil won the most points in the scavenger hunt competition and got a $100 Visa gift card!

Scholars reflected on their time at Temple as we made our way back into DC, and they completed the “learned” section of the KWL activity sheet. Scholars found the variety of different classes and majors interesting, as well as the different study abroad opportunities specific to Temple, like their campus in Tokyo. For many of our scholars, this was the first college they had seen or heard much about outside of DC schools near them.

Although scholars weren’t able to see Temple in full swing with a mass of students walking around campus, they experienced the excitement of seeing a new place and learning about the college experience and what they can achieve with a college diploma, all while reconnecting with fellow Higher Achievement scholars and staff before the next school year starts.