EMERGE fellows get first-hand look at college life

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Students tour over a dozen top-tier campuses in south and northeast

Nearly 200 students from high schools throughout HISD are getting a first-hand look at top-tier colleges in the south and northeast as part of the district’s EMERGE summer tours.

Ninety rising seniors are visiting schools in North Carolina and Virginia this week, while 75 rising sophomores are spending time in Massachusetts. The tours are designed to expose students in EMERGE, a program made up of high-performing students from underserved backgrounds, to colleges and universities outside of Texas, as well as opportunities to help them make the most informed decision in their pursuit of higher education.

Students on the two trips are not only touring campuses, but are staying in college dorms, sitting in on lectures from professors, attending financial aid workshops, and hearing from first-generation college students. The students are also discussing the importance of finding the right fit for them when it comes to picking a school.

“The trip has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there for me,” said Samantha Rodriguez, a Challenge Early College High School rising senior who attended the North Carolina-Virginia trip. “I know now I am looking for a smaller liberal arts college that has more intimate classes rather than a large institution with tens of thousands of students.”

As part of her EMERGE college tour, Samantha explored several smaller institutions in the south including Davidson University and Washington and Lee as well as larger schools including Duke, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Virginia. Students on the Boston tour visited MIT, Boston University, Northeastern, Harvard, and Brandies.

Joining students and chaperones on the North Carolina-Virginia trip was HISD Board Member Harvin Moore, who just went through the college application process with his own daughter. Moore, who stayed in the dorms and toured campuses alongside students, said he was impressed with the presentations given by admissions representatives and with the students themselves.

“These colleges and universities want EMERGE students,” he said. “They have heard about our program. The one-on-one time and in-depth information they gave our kids was far above what I have personally seen on college tours.”

There are three more EMERGE tours later this month, including another one to Boston and a trip to Philadelphia, and California.