About 80 juniors from the San Antonio Independent School District are spending spring break visiting top colleges.
The tours are part of an initiative to increase college enrollment in the district funded by an $8 million grant from Valero Energy.
One group of juniors is spending the week touring the University of Southern California, Occidental College and other schools near Los Angeles. The other group is visiting schools near Washington D.C., including Duke, Georgetown and John Hopkins universities.
According to the district, all of the students visiting the colleges have the grades and test scores necessary to be admitted.
“We want to make sure to give students every opportunity, and part of that — especially for these top-tier schools — (is) we want to eliminate the unknown,” said Victoria Bustos, the executive director of student support services at SAISD.
As part of a pilot program with Valero last year, SAISD took about 80 juniors on college trips. This year, the district plans to increase the number of students to 250.
“What we learned from last year is that those college trips were very life changing for many of our students,” said Bustos, pointing to the success of a trip to Rice University in Houston.
“Because we sent students on this trip this summer we have more college applicants to Rice University,” she added.
SAISD is planning college trips for more students in June to tour schools in Texas and in New England.
According to the district, about 54 percent of SAISD’s class of 2017 is enrolled in college. Out of those in college, about 13 percent are in selective universities.
The district’s goal is for 80 percent of its high school graduates to enroll in college by 2020, with 10 percent of those graduates attending selective universities.
Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille