Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI) is an after school-type program that works to increase matriculation into higher education for those in the Barrio Logan community. Specifically, the organization serves a demographic of Latinx youth who are low-income, first-generation, and working-class. Entering BLCI requires an application, high parental involvement, and a commitment to the institute. The students are expected to attend weekly workshops and to be involved in the programs that BLCI offers. Because of this intensive program, the students are equipped with the skills to tackle higher education. Statistically, Barrio logan has low averages of annual income, less than five percent of those 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree, and less than fifty percent of those 25 and older with a high school diploma (BLCI The Need). Low levels of education lead to low civic engagement and higher crime rates (BLCI The Need). This pushed our group to reflect on the type of program we wanted to create to tackle the jarring data. After attending our weekly internships, our group found that the students do not fit the dominant narrative that the students are not invested in their education. In fact, the students we interacted with were highly motivated and excited for what college has to offer. We found that this motivation stemmed intrinsically, but also due to the fact that BLCI paved way for many of the students to feel capable. After about a week or two, we were tasked with creating an original workshop for the duration of their workshop time. Our group brainstormed a bit and settled on creating a workshop that discusses college in a manner that is both fun and informative. Since our demographic are rising juniors, we found this to be very fitting as junior year is one of the more crucial ones that college readers tend to scrutinize. We also thought about the student’s backgrounds when creating this workshop. Our demographic needed more intentional and deliberate discussion topics in order for them to truly relate and not see it as a lecture.
Do you remember high school? Maybe you chose to forget that awkward stage of your life, or maybe that is where you peaked. Regardless of your experience, high school is only but a gateway to the mystery and confusion that is college. No matter if you went to a junior college or an ivy league, it is nearly impossible to be fully prepared for the journey that lies ahead; however, there is no harm in trying. With this in mind, we created a workshop, titled College 101, to help provide the students of Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI) be more prepared for what they can expect in college. We created this workshop with the intentions of pulling direct from our own experiences. It is understood that everyone who enters college will have a different experience, so our intentions for this workshop was to provide alternating perspectives and backgrounds for what the students of BLCI could possibly encounter.
College 101 began with a simple run down of who we are as individuals (our majors, hometown, high school and college involvements). We wanted to provide an overview of who we all are as individuals to create a picture of our own backgrounds and allow the students to find a related aspect of our lives to compare to their own. The four of us have drastically different back stories which provides the opportunity for many bases to be covered. We longed to have the students be as immersed as possible into the workshop. College 101 was constructed to have the students vicariously live through our mistakes and tribulations so that they may overcome and limit their own quandaries in the future.
We broke College 101 into three major categories: What I wish I knew before college, Inside the classroom, and College Life. One of us would begin to describe and give an overview of the category and then the rest of us would explain our own perspective in alternating intervals. By each one of us providing more to the conversation, we were able to obtain and withhold the students attention throughout the workshop as opposed to one continuous voice reflecting upon our experiences.
For our first category, we focused on our biggest struggles of college. We provided the students with tips and tricks to succeed. These tips include: going to a professor’s office hours, going to bed at a decent time, eating healthy and nutritious meals, going to class help rooms, utilizing teacher’s assistants, and the best forms to study and write papers. We each provided our own stories to correlate with these tricks in order to interpret what exactly we intended with the tip. This also provided them with a scenario that they may find themselves in in the future.
The second category was used to depict how to succeed the most in relation to grades. We described the reality that college is not easy, but said it in a way to not discourage the students, but, rather, to harp on why it is so necessary to be prepared. We painted a picture of what a normal class is like at UCSD and why it is necessary to go to discussion for every class. We provided insight about what goes on in an average class; something they would not otherwise know without attending a class themselves. We also reflected on although class is always important to go to and attend, if one must miss a class, they will not necessarily be behind on the curriculum because there are resources available to keep them on track.
For our final category, we gave them a big insight on what we all personally do in college in or day-to-day lives. Anything from fraternities and sororities to job opportunities, we wanted to also provide them with the fun possibilities that colleges can provide, as opposed to just reflecting on classwork. The students learned about clubs and other organizations in college they could become a part of in order to better immerse themselves.
Each one of us comes from all different backgrounds, as reflected upon within our workshop. The students had the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the workshop. To our joy, the students asked many questions. This provided the reality that they were attentive and interested throughout the entire workshop, thus allowing us to determine it was all a success. College 101 was built to provide clear examples and ideas of what college can provide for students and what they may encounter. Although we have had many struggles, in addition to our successes, it is comforting to know that through my own struggles and difficulties, someone else may be able to learn and grow and avoid problems themselves.