Javaune Adams-Gaston asked a room of more than 250 bleary-eyed high school students one simple question in the Ohio Union Tuesday morning.
“How many of you are preparing to go to college?”
About half of the teenagers raised their hands.
The senior vice president for Student Life told the crowded room of students they should all have their hands up.
“How many of you think you have an opportunity to come to the Ohio State University?” she asked as a follow-up.
Roughly two dozen students raised their hands.
“We want you to see yourself as a member of this university,” Adams-Gaston said. “That is why we prepare a Day in the Life of a Buckeye. This truly is the state flagship university, and you all need to see this as a place you can come.”
A Day in the Life of a Buckeye is a daylong program that brings high school students from urban and Appalachian area schools to tour campus and see firsthand what it means to be a college student.
The goal of the program is to have more of those high school students raise their hands to both of Adams-Gaston’s questions.
The sixth installation of the Spring Semester event — one is also held in the fall — brought sophomores and juniors from 10 high schools across the state and groups the students together for events such as a campus tour and a simulated classroom.
The schools that are selected for the free, biannual program are chosen because they represent areas and populations that are historically underrepresented at Ohio State, said Lane Washington, the event’s organizer and a second-year doctoral student in higher education and student affairs.
Washington said the style of the program is different from traditional campus tours that can be seen constantly walking about on campus.
“What we are trying to do is build a day that helps students really grow and learn about Ohio State, more than just a campus tour … actually seeing themselves in this space. Seeing themselves in a classroom is something that I don’t think they get from a normal college campus tour experience,” he said.
While the free lunch, snacks and drawstring bags filled with goodies is enough to excite most high schoolers, for Arianna Vance, a sophomore from Cleveland, it was the campus tour that captivated her the most, particularly seeing the RPAC.
“I think [Day in the Life] is very important because I can actually see what college is like before deciding to go to college,” Vance said. “Going to the gym made me realize I really want to go here and work with sports.”
Vance said she wants to come to Ohio State to pursue a degree in sports therapy. She plans to attend as part of the Young Scholars Program, an initiative the university established to help first-generation aspiring college students with high financial need.
Through Day in the Life, Vance will get hands-on assistance in applying to schools and navigating the confusing financial-aid process, something Washington said is a focus of the program.
“Probably the hardest part about the college process is ‘I know how to apply, but how do I have money?’ That’s a really important part that we make sure to include,” Washington said.