More than 100 middle schoolers have already gotten their acceptance letters to Penn. At least for one day.
On Friday, April 20, 102 seventh- and eighth graders from Shaw Middle, Leslie P. Hill and Lea Elementary schools will become honorary college students at Penn during College Day 2012.
An annual event designed to excite students about the college experience in the hopes that they will become motivated to work harder in school and strive for a college education, College Day has grown considerably since its inception nearly eight years ago.
“The Office of Government and Community Affairs initiated College Days in 2004 as a part of the Penn Compact to provide area youth with opportunities and access to Penn, as well as to provide them with an understanding of college life and the many resources on campus,” explains Glenn Bryan, assistant vice president of community relations in the Office of Government and Community Affairs. “I started the program based on the personal experiences I had growing up in West Philadelphia, visiting and subsequently attending Penn.”
Alexander Amaniel, a native of Alexandria, Va., and a junior who is double majoring in international relations and African studies, identifies with many of the middle-school students who attend the annual event.
As the son of a single mother from a low-income household, Amaniel recognizes the support he had that others may be missing.
“I had opportunities in the form of the work ethic my mother drove in me as well as mentors in middle and high school who urged me to pursue a college education. Friends from middle and high school did not have access to similar sources of encouragement,” he says.
His own personal experience inspired him to volunteer and help to organize the event.
“Our goal is to get students excited about the possibility of a college education,” Amaniel, 21, says. “My hope is that College Day will be a small source of encouragement for the attendees and a way for them to more easily visualize themselves on a campus like Penn.”
Penn students will volunteer as mentors throughout the day, sharing their college experiences and escorting groups on a campus tour. During the tour, the students will visit key locations across campus –- from the Quad to Franklin Field to the Van Pelt Library –- giving students a sample of what college life entails.
After lunch, students will participate in a mock Management 100 class, designing and marketing an invention that Penn students would want to buy.
Wrapping up the day, the students will sit in on a panel discussion about college life. During the panel and Q&A session, everyone can discuss what has been learned from the event.
“College Days at Penn is a collaboration between student organizations such as the Undergraduate Assembly and the Office of Government and Community Affairs working with area schools and community organizations,” Bryan says.