Bridgehampton High School seniors and juniors returned Friday from a school-sponsored tour of four upstate college campuses. For many of them, it was the first time they’d ever set foot on a college campus. For all, school officials said, it was an inspirational and eye-opening experience, one that helped them visualize a place for themselves in the world of higher education.
“Oftentimes they are just viewing colleges on a website,” said Danielle Doscher, Bridgehampton’s guidance department director, “and when they get there, it’s a very different experience. The goal was also to have them see different types of campuses in different locations, and I think the goal was accomplished. They got a good idea of what college life is going to be like.”
The itinerary covered state university campuses in Binghamton, Oneonta, and Cortland, as well as Cornell University, a private school. The Bridgehampton students had the chance to meet with current students, faculty members, and admissions counselors, and in some cases even ate lunch on campus — an enjoyable experience that dispelled the stereotype that campus cafeteria food is less than appetizing.
Sheily Ruiz Soto, a Bridgehampton senior, said she learned that in college, unlike high school, students are more independently responsible for going to classes and managing their time. “You hold yourself accountable for all the work you have to do,” she said.
Cheyanne Lamb, also a senior, said the trip has inspired her to stay on top of her high school classes with even more dedication than before. “I want to be prepared so when it’s time for college I can apply what I learned in high school,” she said.
The students also observed firsthand how schools differ in the areas of student diversity, work opportunities, academic majors, extracurricular clubs, and “Greek life” –- meaning fraternity and sorority groups.
Mikhail Feaster, another senior, realized that Greek life appeals to him. “Being able to go there and come into a brotherhood or sisterhood would be helpful,” he said.
“I loved the trip,” said Aiyanna Spears, a Bridgehampton junior. “I was able to compare the SUNY schools to the ones I visited down south — the historically Black colleges and universities — to see what kind of environment I want. I liked hearing the students’ opinions and what the schools have to offer.”
A grant from New York State through the 21st Century Learning Centers program covered the cost of the trip for the students. Mary Kelly, the district superintendent, said Bridgehampton’s students come from households of varying socioeconomic means, so parents aren’t universally able to take their children on college tours. Trips like this can remove that barrier, she said.
“We wanted to give our kids the opportunity to see that it’s something within their reach,” Dr. Kelly said. “They really had an immersive experience. . . . Our mantra here is with the right resources, relationships, and support, all students — all children — can be placed on a trajectory for academic achievement and success.”