By Steven Li
The infamous senior college season is best known for its countless caffeine-driven extravaganzas featuring supplemental essays, major decision making, insane acceptance rates, and breakdowns over affording college. However, before this application process can even occur, students decide their ideal college, including aspects beyond the school’s academics.
A student’s social life, residence halls, and location are huge factors influencing the next four years of a prospective student’s life. Some students immediately start visiting colleges while many other students are stuck in their home state, unable to afford flights, hotel costs, and travel expenses. Organizations like college-visits.com provide college tours by region, costing upwards of $2,000 (Gobel, “3 Ways to Cut College Tour Costs”, 2015 ). When you add the costs of application fees, applying to college runs upward of $3,500 according to Kat Cohen, CEO of admissions consultant Ivy Wise (Goldstein, “3 Ways to Cut College Tour Costs”, 2015).
However, there are amazing opportunities for students to live on college campuses, live in dorms, and find their fit with fly-in programs. Fly-in programs target first-generation, low-income, and/or minority high-school seniors to provide an opportunity to visit college campuses that would otherwise be out of their affordable range. University of Pennsylvania, Pomona College, and others continue to offer these programs, involving a full-expense paid trip to the colleges. Students are also able to sit in college classes of their interest, have college essay workshops, live in dorms, and meet with admission and financial aid officers.
These programs include college-formed itineraries, often providing insight beyond a typical college tour. Many students find these programs extremely useful in their college journey, especially when figuring out their social fit, something they couldn’t do from home. Cristian Carpio, a first-generation student, expressed his gratitude to the University of Pennsylvania saying, “PEEP has provided me perspective and direction that my family wouldn’t be able to afford.” Yousif Mohsen, another first-generation student who went to Pomona College’s fly-in program expresses a sense of community saying he “was far from the only first-generation, low-income student of color on a journey for higher education.”
To find fly-in’s, College Greenlight provides annually updated lists of all fly-in opportunities and deadlines, which you can find at CollegeGreenlight.com. The only thing left for students to do is to apply.