News

11th Grade Scholars Spend Spring Break on Annual College Tour

Rosa, an 11th grade Scholar, enjoys some complimentary cotton candy at UPitt.
Rosa, an 11th grade Scholar, enjoys some complimentary cotton candy at UPitt.

Fifteen FLOC 11th grade Scholars took advantage of their week off from school to join myself and two other FLOC staff members on a five-day college tour. During the week, we visited six schools and traveled through five states.

Our first stop was Pittsburgh where we visited the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt) and the Community College of Allegheny County. For some students, this was their first opportunity to spend substantial time on a college campus. We had a great time in Pittsburgh and were able to enjoy some of the campus festivities happening on UPitt’s campus during our visit.

Pennsylvania State University at Altoona was our next stop. Despite the drizzle, we had definitive backwards-walking tour guides who shared their love for Penn State Altoona with our students. Students asked a lot of questions and loved seeing the contrast between a very large school, UPitt, and a smaller school, Penn State Altoona.  We broke up our drive by stopping by the main Pennsylvania State University campus in University Park to enjoy ice cream from the on-campus creamery before traveling to Syracuse, New York.

One tour group of students with their St. Joseph’s University guide.
One tour group of students with their St. Joseph’s University guide.

After a run in with a sudden April blizzard, we awoke to fresh snow in Syracuse which luckily melted as the sun joined us out on our tour of Syracuse University. Students enjoyed seeing the indoor stadium and hearing about the on-campus flight simulator. Once we were done comparing the food at Syracuse with our previous cafeteria visits, we headed to Philadelphia just in time to attend a Phillies baseball game.  We spent the evening cheering on the home team and ended our trip by visiting the beautiful St. Joseph’s University (SJU), where we heard all about Hawk Basketball and voted SJU as having the “best cafeteria food” of our trip by a landslide.

Students enjoy a chilly Phillies Game.
Students enjoy a chilly Phillies Game.

At all of the colleges we visited students asked a lot of questions, ate in the on-campus dining halls and gained knowledge about different types of post-secondary institutions. I was impressed with the information our students retained about each campus visit and appreciated hearing the progression in the complexity of their questions as the week passed and we visited more schools.

This week also gave me the opportunity to witness friendships blossom between our students and get to know them outside of the FLOC building. When the time comes for these 11th graders to begin applying to colleges next fall, FLOC’s high school class of 2015 will know what to look for when deciding what colleges might be right for them. I am excited for the roller-coaster year that awaits them!


Test your knowledge of some of the schools we visited with trivia we learned on our tours!

1. Which college that we visited is Bob Costas an alumnus of? What international event does he take undergraduates from this university to every two years?

2. What two Pennsylvania counties does St. Joseph’s University span across?

3. What is the capacity at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus stadium, Beaver Stadium?

4. On which campus that we visited are ducks federally protected?

5. At what college was a famous children’s TV show (involving sweaters!) filmed at? What is the name of the TV show?

Answers: 1. Syracuse; the Olympics 2. Philadelphia and Montgomery  3. 107,282    4.  Penn State University – Altoona   5. UPitt; Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).

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News, Scholars Program, Staff Perspectives

Middle School Scholars Visit the University of Pennsylvania

Our attentive Middle School Scholars learning about the University of Pennsylvania.
Our attentive Middle School Scholars learning about the University of Pennsylvania.

Early on a bright and sunny October 14th, 25 Middle School students from the FLOC Scholars Program boarded a bus headed for the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).

Upon their arrival to the ivy-covered Philadelphia campus, the FLOC Scholars were greeted by five college students representing the Greenfield Intercultural Center at UPenn. The college students answered questions and led their visitors on group tours all around the bustling campus. Highlights included the historic Anne & Jerome Fisher Fine Arts Library, a glimpse at a dorm room, the oversized button sculpture, and the campus bookstore. Following a few more questions about college life, the FLOC Scholars parted ways with their wonderful UPenn student guides.

According to their appetites worked up by touring the large campus it was then lunchtime. The FLOC Scholars were not disappointed by the extensive lunch options available to them at the heavily anticipated cafeteria. For many, this was a chance to enjoy the company of new and old FLOC friends alike over a slice of fresh pizza or a bowl of ice cream from the memorable sundae bar.

With tummies filled and feet rested, it was off on another venture for the Scholars: a scavenger hunt led by more dynamic UPenn undergraduates. Teams competed to investigate UPenn lore and favorite sites around campus before eventually meeting up at the famous LOVE sculpture.

A group of Middle School Scholars with their student guide at the famous LOVE sculpture
A group of Middle School Scholars with their student guide at the famous LOVE sculpture

The Scholars ended their day back at the Greenfield Intercultural Center, where they asked the last of their well thought-out questions and received commemorative water bottles and bags to remember their exciting day at the University of Pennsylvania! Few eyes were shut on the bus ride home after such a stimulating adventure.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).