San Diego State University hosted more than 100 under-represented ninth and tenth grade students in San Diego as part of the inaugural program, “Students with Academic Goals.”
The event concluded a month-long initiative, sponsored by SDSU, the California Student Opportunity and Access Program, University of California, San Diego and Bayview Baptist church.
Set up as an SAT preparatory academy, students have taken a pre-SAT exam, experienced an overnight stay at Point Loma Nazarene University and toured UCSD.
"The goal of the program is to expose students to the university experience, campus culture and engage in student success," said Beverly Warren, acting director of SDSU's Educational Opportunity Program.
To mark the completion of the program, the students experienced a full day at SDSU, with the unique opportunity of a question and answer session with SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.
The students also heard from Reginald Blaylock, associate vice president for Student Affairs.
Participants also toured the campus, listened to a SDSU student panel session, had lunch at an SDSU dining hall and took part in campus presentations from SDSU Admissions and Financial Aid departments.
Meeting with President Hirshman
Students were given the chance to ask Hirshman questions about SDSU and the college experience.
Many questions revolved around the transition from a high school classroom to a university campus. Hirshman shared advice with students to make the transition easier.
"Know your goals," he said. "You don't have to be an expert at many different things. Pick one or two things you're passionate about and pursue those options."
One student asked the president what three words describe success, to which he replied, "Focus, focus and focus. There are no secrets or short cuts — you have to work hard. Don't get sidetracked, stay focused."
Blaylock emphasized the importance of education to the students.
"When students come to campus, I have very high expectations of them," he said. "You should come to a university and expect the best, and we expect the best from our students."
Students shared their new-found interest in the prospect of attending a university.
"At first, the idea of college scared me," a tenth grade participant said. "But after participating in Students With Academic Goals, I'm really excited to pursue higher education."