Scholars get the ‘Inside Scoop’ on college

January 24, 2017 in Articles by Dikla Tuchman

Throughout their six years in PSP, scholars are offered numerous opportunities to talk with their mentors about college: How to find the right fit, what it will be like, what they should be doing to prepare. Particularly in their junior and senior years of high school, scholars spend time visiting college campuses with their mentors, getting exposure to the college experience, and often meeting with current students. As students return from college visits, they often attribute the most valuable component to these experiences to hearing from current college students about what campus life is really like.

Even more imperative is being able to talk with former PSP scholars whose struggles as first generation, low-income students they can relate to. Recognizing that this experience can be essential for students to feel more comfortable and prepared for the transition to college, PSP’s Mendocino mentor Mina Cohen came up with the idea of holding a yearly event she called Inside Scoop.

PSP senior Carla A. has been attending the Inside Scoop event since she was in the 8th grade and believes hearing from PSP alumni is an invaluable experience while preparing for college. “Since I am a senior I take any form of advice on college very seriously, so going to the Inside Scoop, I really wanted to hear about the student’s campus life – from their hardships to the living situations – and get their honest opinion,” says Carla.

Held over winter break, Inside Scoop invites several PSP alumni to speak about their experience in college and answer any questions that current scholars might have. This year’s event was held on Thursday, December 29 in Little River and was attended by over 50 scholars, mentors and parents. The evening included panelists Taylor Stonebarger, Tracy Yahaira Gordon and Tanner Morgan. “The real stars of the night were the returning scholars,” says Fort Bragg mentor Joan Stevenson who attended the event. “The enthusiasm and delight in sharing their experiences really made the night special and informative.”

One of Fort Bragg’s younger scholars, 8th grader Russel G. was in attendance and was struck most by what the alumni panel had to say about the freedom and possibilities that will be open to him on a college campus. “I learned that college isn’t so restricted,” says Russel. He looks forward to attending other Inside Scoops in the future, saying events like these are “really valuable for determining what [I] will want to do in the future.”

PSP Board member and long-time mentor, Rachel Binah, organized the most recent Inside Scoop and emphasized the importance of making such events available to current scholars. “One of our main purposes in PSP is to help our scholars prepare for, apply to and ultimately succeed in college,” says Rachel. “As first generation students to go to college, they all worry about what it will really be like. Each of them have similar fears and anxieties. But reassurance from mentors, or other adults, is not the same as the reassurance they feel from directly hearing the stories of experiences their peers have had.”