Friday, June 30, 2017

ATS Students head East!

ATS had a rare chance in June to send a few students to visit some prestigious universities in the northeastern United States.  You may have heard of a few of them.  We are publishing their reflections in our blog!

The first one is by Areli Alvarez, an El Molino High School student.

Six of the most memorable days I have ever had were because of the ATS East Coast campus
tour held in Boston, Cambridge, and New York City. This experience was unlike any other. I
have been fortunate enough to be able to go on a few college campus tours, but none were like
those that 11 other students and I experienced on the East Coast. The atmosphere of the east
coast was so different from the atmosphere of the west coast. Being able to experience such a trip
was amazing on its own, but being able to experience it with other wonderful individuals, the
students and chaperones, made it that much more enjoyable and memorable.

If it weren’t for my ATS advisor, Jimmy Bailon, and him pushing me to apply for the east coast
tours, I wouldn’t be reflecting upon it today. I was skeptical about it all:  the application, the
campuses, the traveling to the other side of the United States, all because I didn’t have an open
mind towards considering the idea that I could go to college outside of California. However,
eventually I came to my senses and realized that applying wouldn’t hurt and if I did get accepted,
it would be an experience I could cherish forever.

A building on the (rainy) Harvard tour
I learned so much from all of the campus visits that I wouldn’t otherwise know if I hadn’t been
present at the tours. Lots must be taken into consideration when beginning to select colleges of
interest for future one’s education. For example, asking yourself if being far, far away from
home, across the country, seems like a good idea. Or how the financial aid amounts are
determined. Specifically, it was helpful to know what each campus looked for test wise when
sending in scores with the application. Being able to go to four different campuses gave us
students a taste of a few different atmospheres. We got to figure out what we liked and didn’t:
busy campus in the city? Mellow environment with a small population of students? Studying
abroad rather than staying at the initial campus? And more. In a way, we got a sneak peek of
what college could be like. Meeting new people, staying in a hotel room and making new
friends, being on numerous campuses and getting a feel for the school, and overall, being that
much more independent in cities we were unfamiliar with. We, the students, grew as people and
began to find ourselves and our likes and dislikes; this helped so much with the confusion that
rose, and still continues to sometimes rise, when the topic of college comes up.

Because of the east coast tours, I know that I want to stay close to home, in California. The
atmospheres I happened to experience were unique and absolutely incredible, but I know that those atmospheres and environments aren’t the ones for me. Visiting Harvard,Boston College, NYU, and Columbia was a true blessing and it taught me so much. I’m more open to campuses I wouldn’t normally consider because while I don’t see myself going to an east coast campus, the campuses did expose characteristics and factors that I do have an interest in for college in the future. The opportunity to visit the east coast was unlike any other. From visiting the Statue of Liberty and roaming around Times Square, to driving past the baseball stadium where the Red Sox play and visiting Harvard, a university from which eight United States presidents graduated. It was an experience I will never forget. It was one for the books.

Areli and new friends from Upward Bound, in Boston