Dr. Dennis O’Hara, Islip’s superintendent of schools, often talks about changing students’ life trajectories. He believes one way to do so is to get young people to visit college campuses where they can envision themselves as undergraduates. To that end, Islip High School sponsored a college tour from Nov. 2-4 for students to the Boston and Connecticut areas. Along with nine chaperones, 95 sophomores, juniors, and seniors experienced a three-day, seven-college transformational trip, learning about the many aspects of the college admissions process and life on a college campus.
The first stop of the tour was Northeastern University in Boston, where students listened to an information session provided by admissions officers. Then, Northeastern students took the high schoolers on a tour around the campus and inside an actual dorm room. The tour concluded with lunch at a dining commons. The Islip group was delighted to connect with a Class of 2023 graduate who now attends Northeastern.
“That was my first experience at a college, and I related to it,” current IHS junior Juan Salcedo Pacheco said. “I learned so much about the process to apply and, most importantly, the opportunities that are there for everyone.”
From there, the group traveled to Boston College for an information session as well as a tour of the campus. That night, they enjoyed dinner and games at a local Dave & Busters before returning to the hotel.
The next day, the tour continued at Bentley College in Waltham. Bentley was a hit with students who are considering degrees in business.
“I had never heard of Bentley before and didn’t know it was a business school, and since the topic I want to study requires a business major, I fell in love with the school,” student Isabella Dragos said.
From Bentley, students traveled to Harvard University in Cambridge, where they participated in a special information session with a director of admissions as well as three current Harvard students, who emphasized that the high schoolers shouldn’t “count themselves out.”
“I learned that due to grants and financial aid, people can attend a prestigious college with paying very little in tuition or even no money at all,” Amy Marconi said.
The final college visit on the second day was Boston University. That evening, students enjoyed sightseeing at Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall before taking a tour of historic Fenway Park.
On the third and final day of the tour, the Islip group began with a walking tour of the campus at the University of Massachusetts Boston before boarding buses and heading towards Storrs, Connecticut for their final stop.
The University of Connecticut was a highlight for many students, and the group was thrilled to connect with one of the Islip High School’s 2023 alumni.
“It was incredible to witness students become excited about the possibilities,” Assistant Principal Meghan Stern said. “From stepping onto a campus that ‘felt like home,’ to learning about a program they plan to pursue, students spent three days learning about their future journeys and the steps they need to take to get there.”
“I was impressed by our students’ conduct, their curiosity, the thoughtful questions they asked, and the way they interacted with each other and the college students we met,” Principal Dr. Lara Gonzalez said. “I am so proud of them, and would travel anywhere, anytime with this wonderful group of young people.”
Dr. Gonzalez later reflected on the impact of the trip, saying, “Northeastern University, Boston College, Bentley University, Harvard College, Boston University, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, Fenway Park, UMass Boston, UConn…and back to Islip! So many places to visit, so much to learn, and so many life trajectories impacted. Growth mindset in motion!”