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June 3, 2002

HL Embarks on Open-Call Ivy League Tour
by Danya Steele


Ever wondered what Harvard University is really like? Interested in a tour to the Ivy League Universities? Well HL is throwing a tour together to visit all eight of them this summer and you DON'T have to be an HL staff member to join in! Check below for more info...

I remember when I first made the suggestion. "Why just an Ivy Tour? Why not an HBCU tour? What's with the focus on Ivy League schools?" is the feedback I received. After initially introducing the idea of embarking on an all-Ivy League school tour, I received apprehensive responses from the staff of HL. Barely anyone wanted to go. I was perplexed. No, I don't place Ivy League schools on some abnormal stratosphere of education...(gimme' a break...) but if these are supposed to be some of the best educational facilities in the country...why not take advantage of the opportunity to go and visit? An HBCU (Historically Black College or University) tour would be fine, but what would be so different? HBCU tours are virtually a dime a dozen. It's not every day you hear of an Ivy Tour...especially in communities of color. Still, I received hesitation.

Eventually, I discovered the problem. When trying to feel out the staff for their feedback on the notion of taking a college tour to visit all eight of the Ivy League institutions in this country, (Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Columbia Universities) I encountered this:

"Come on, Danya. Get real. Who wants to go to Harvard [in this community]? No one." he said. "He" was a seemingly intelligent young white boy with a privileged upbringing; he apparently had no concept of what he was saying. He was actually serious. It was sad. I looked at him for a moment and motioned to reply.

"Who's been exposed to Harvard?" I retorted gently. He silenced. We looked at each other. I continued, "No one. Or if anyone, barely." He got my point. He nodded his head. "You're right...kids should go on that tour."

So it was then that I suddenly realized the task at hand. Kids weren't apprehensive of Harvard or Yale because they'd BEEN there and they KNEW what these schools were like. They were just plain 'ole scared. Intimidated. Miscalculated on the chances of them getting into a school like Columbia or Cornell. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's selective. But no, it's not impossible. That's what this tour is out to prove.

In a community that has already proven to alienate, isolate, and ignore socioeconomically disadvantaged youth [I loathe using phrases like this...] who, unfortunately, are oftentimes minorities, the Ivy League can seem cold and unfair. The situation is changing however, and therefore, you have to be willing to change right along with it.

Waking up in a Brown dorm, sharing lunch with a UPenn student as your peer, holding conversations with a Princeton professor...It is my hope that through this submergence within these scenarios, "Ivy League" won't seem so intangible or far fetched from reality, after all.

I'll drop a cliché and say, "Carpe Diem," a Latin phrase that means, "Seize The Day." Tours Like This Aren't A Dime A Dozen...

Interested in the tour?
Email us @ HLCollegeTour@aol.com

for more info!


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