Last month our REAP 8th graders were given an unusual opportunity- a field trip to UCLA. However, there was a catch. They had to earn it! Only the top 10 earners at each of the six middle school sites were able to go on the field trip. It was a great motivator to get the 8th graders excited about earning REAP scholarship funds.
On Friday February 19th, the chosen 8th graders and the REAP counselors set out bright and early for the trip to UCLA. While at UCLA they visited the Fowler Museum where they participated in a hands on workshop to learn about emblems and symbols. After lunch the group met up and took a tour of the campus with three REAP alumni who are studying at UCLA. The 8th graders finished off their UCLA visit with a trip to the UCLA Bruin’s store to purchase souvenirs. It was a long day with lots of walking involved, but it was a great success.
One of the fundamental goals of the REAP Scholarship Program is to create a college going culture in areas with few college graduates. One way that we are working to accomplish that is by having REAP scholarship recipients give back to the community they came from. In order for REAP alumni to receive their scholarship funds each year, they are required to fulfill a service requirement. This is their chance to be a role model for the kids in the district they graduated from.
In January, several REAP alumni participated in college workshops to talk to current REAP participants about their experiences in college so far. They talked about their struggles. They talked about what they liked about college. They gave words of advice. It was a very positive experience and the overarching message was that as hard as it could be to leave family and go to college, that it was worth it and it was possible.
So what were some of the struggles? For most, having to leave family and be independent adults was a big challenge. Many struggled with learning important life skills such as time management and budgeting. For Luis Salas ’15 living in a big city was a major adjustment after growing up in small town Lindsay, CA. He shared humorous stories about getting lost and about feeling overwhelmed by how many people there were.
What advice did they have to share? Don’t procrastinate. Find a way to study that works for you. Alejandra Lopez ’15 shared her experience of scheduling two classes back to back that were on opposite sides of the campus. Her advice was to have a map of the campus handy when registering for classes in order to avoid making the mistake she made.
At the end of the various presentations, the alumni answered questions. It was a good chance for the high school students to get a glimpse into college life and realize that college has a lot to offer and is well within their reach.