Seniors reflect on their college touring experience

Seniors on the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School Student Media staff reflect on their experience with touring college campuses and share how those visits helped them make a decision on where to attend after graduation.

Features Editor Angela Ledesma visits UC Berkeley on April 23 on a college tour. She committed to UCLA. (Angela Ledesma)

Angela Ledesma, UCLA

As May 1 or National Decision Day in the United States has passed, so has some of the pressure that has been gnawing on the Class of 2023. The first of May meant more than just simply choosing a college that I wanted to go to. It meant a culmination of all of the hard work and effort I have done during my four years at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School.

The college admission process was scary as I ventured through the unknown, relying on my friends to help me navigate through the uncharted territory that is college applications. As a first-generation Latinx student, I simply applied everywhere that I could think of, getting suggestions along the way. Only after all of my college acceptances came back did I start to worry about my decision and start researching what college was the best for me. Along the way, I got emails about events from UCLA and UC Berkeley, my top two contenders. 

April 15 was the first time that I set foot on a college campus that I seriously thought of attending. It also marked Bruin Day at UCLA, which I signed up my family and I for a Latinx event. That singular experience gave me an opportunity to really explore UCLA, speak to alumni and get a feel of the campus; something that I wish I did way sooner. The next day, April 16, there was a local UC Berkeley event that I attended, where I got to speak to counselors and visit different informational tables about Berkeley. Though it wasn’t until I personally toured the Berkeley campus on April 23 that I discovered how much I liked Berkeley. 

Initially, I was convinced I was going to commit to Berkeley because of the tour. Being able to see Berkeley and really get a feel of the university was something that aided me in this decision. It wasn’t until decision day was coming up and I was still hesitant about choosing Berkeley did I decide to visit UCLA one last time. Being able to go visit UCLA for the second time was what made me realize that UCLA was where I wanted to be. Walking on the campus as if I was a regular student and seeing what a socially active community UCLA is made me change my mind. I saw what a welcoming and fun environment was and I realized that it was a community that I wanted to be a part of.

Print Editor-in-Chief Delilah Brumer celebrates her commitment to Northwestern University on Dec. 16. (Provided by Delilah Brumer)

Delilah Brumer, Northwestern University

Last summer, I visited eight colleges, spread across five states—all over the course of only three days. Although I lost a lot of sleep, this trip allowed me to learn about my higher education options, envision myself on a college campus and make amazing memories. 

One of the colleges I visited was Northwestern University, which is located right outside of Chicago, Illinois. During my tour, I was able to explore the beautiful campus, which stretches alongside Lake Michigan. I also went inside the college’s century-old buildings and asked questions about classes and clubs. The tour solidified in my mind that Northwestern was my top choice college. Now, I’m committed to study journalism there in the Class of 2027.

When deciding between universities, there’s a huge difference between browsing a school’s website and actually breathing in the campus air. I recommend that every student tour their top choice colleges before committing to a school, if they have the opportunity to do so.

Art Director Gabrielle Lashley visits the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the art college of Washington University in St. Lois, on April 17. Lashley ultimately committed to USC. (Provided by Gabrielle Lashley)

Gabrielle Lashley, USC

Over the past few months, college decisions were rolling in and I created my list of top colleges I wanted to consider committing to for an art degree. When April started, college tours were the only thing left to do.

I was running back and forth to attend admitted student tours for UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), and USC. On April 15, I attended my first tour, at UCLA, during a Black Admit student day with a campus tour, a barbecue, an info session and amazing performances by Black student groups on campus. It was a great experience for me to mingle with current students and get a feel for the community. 

On April 17, WashU flew me out to Missouri and showed me the everyday experiences that a student at their art school would encounter. We toured the campus, asked students about the opportunities they had within their programs and did arts and crafts to end the day. After the big day, my mom and I did some sightseeing of the beautiful buildings in St. Louis and flew back home. 

My trips to USC, on April 18 and 28, were great opportunities to see the beautiful campus and get to know the kind of program I applied to at the info sessions. On that tour, I met several students who talked about their art and journalism programs and answered my general questions about the school environment.

Going to each of these schools gave me a good opportunity to see what kind of campus environment they have, talk to current students about their experiences and learn about the programs that I was admitted into. Through the exciting process of getting a good feel of what these schools were like, I realized that USC had the best journalism and animation programs, the best proximity to internships with news publications and animation studios and overall the best community and education for me. Within all of my several visits to the campus, outside of tours and info sessions, this campus filled me with anticipation to start the new year and made me feel excited for all the possibilities that would come from attending. I couldn’t be happier to start the next step of my life at USC. 

Yearbook Editor-in-Chief Naamah Silcott tours Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan with the rest of their Posse on April 25.  (Provided by Naamah Silcott)

Naamah Silcott, Kalamazoo College

For most seniors, the months of March and April are the most stressful, getting those last-minute applications and tours in before college decisions get released. My experience was completely different, however.

I already knew what college I’d be going to since early December: my admittance to Kalamazoo College in Michigan a result of receiving a Posse scholarship from the Posse Foundation. April 23-25 was the only college tour I went on. The tour was an overnight trip put together by the Kalamazoo admissions staff, with the Posse scholars who would be attending starting in the fall in mind for the trip.

Still very much jetlagged from the red-eye flight from LAX and the connecting flight out of Minneapolis, nine other Posse members and I toured the campus after settling into dorm rooms we shared with other Posse scholars already attending Kalamazoo. Touring the campus on the first day was a great opportunity to get acclimated to the campus and the plant life accompanying the rustic buildings. 

On the second day, we had breakfast with the entire admissions office and lunch with several different professors working at the school. In between the time we got to spend getting to know faculty, each member of my Posse was assigned to go to a different class based on what majors we are interested in. I had the opportunity to sit in on a biology class since I want to go into psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. It was an awesome experience and helped me gain a better understanding of what to expect when actually taking classes while at Kalamazoo. We also got to visit the on-campus Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL), one of the opportunities available at Kalamazoo to get involved with the community surrounding the school, students and faculty.

On the third and final day, we sat in on a club meeting held by a large sum of students on campus, which gave us another opportunity to ask several questions to students already attending Kalamazoo, Posse-affiliated or not. Overall, it was really wonderful to experience a handful of the things happening at the school I’ll be attending. Even if it was three days, my excitement to attend hasn’t stopped and the opportunities that will come with going.

Sports Editor Sabrina Robertson stands outside the California State University, Monterey Bay library during a tour on “Admitted Otter Day” on April 15. (Provided by Sabrina Robertson)

Sabrina Robertson, California State University, Monterey Bay

In mid-April, I went to visit California State University, Monterey Bay. It’s one of the three schools I applied to and my number one choice. When I got the email saying I was accepted, I couldn’t wait to tour the school. 

On April 15, I arrived in Seaside, California for “Admitted Otter Day.” When I stepped onto the campus, everything hit me at once: I was going to college here. I was studying something I have been passionate about my whole life, marine science. And the school was just one mile away from the beach. 

I was able to meet University President Vanya Quiñones, who welcomed me and was so excited to see all the incoming students. Meeting her made me feel much less nervous about moving here in the fall. I also met the head of the marine science department, James Lindholm, who talked about scuba diving courses that are offered by the school.

After leaving the campus, I couldn’t wait to go back. The tour really helped me get ready and excited for college.