Bulletin News

Syracuse Eighth Graders Visit Campus


One-hundred-sixty eager eighth graders from Syracuse, N.Y., filed out of four buses and onto the steps of SUNY Cortland’s Corey Union earlier this month, where they mingled with their classmates and looked closely at their surroundings.

“This school has its own Dunkin Donuts?!” exclaimed Najah Acosta, a 13-year-old girl who is enrolled at the Expeditionary Learning Middle School in Syracuse’s Valley section.

Although the popular coffee chain could be considered a selling point for some, Acosta was even more interested in learning about academics at SUNY Cortland during her visit to the College.

She and the other students from the Syracuse City School District’s Expeditionary Learning Middle School and H.W. Smith School were on campus for their Eighth Grade College Visit Day on April 3.

“I want to know what college life is like and what my schedule would be,” said Acosta, an eighth grader who participates in track and field.

“I hope I learn more about what I want to be when I am older,” added Jessica Hoddel, a fellow student and friend of Acosta.

The curious students flipped through their folders, which were filled with study-abroad pamphlets, a list of majors and various other fact sheets.

“I want to learn about sport management, recreation and fitness,” commented Trevor Stone, 13, a student and athlete at the Expeditionary Learning Middle School.

“I want to play football in college,” chimed in William Bayshaw, a classmate of Stone’s who plays football and lacrosse.

Syracuse eighth graders
SUNY Cortland junior Samantha Nealon, center, an early childhood education major from Gloversville, N.Y., offered a campus tour to Antoinette Dowdell, left, Shadia Peterson and many of their eighth grade classmates on April 3. Eighth graders from the Syracuse City School District’s Expeditionary Learning Middle School and H.W. Smith School tasted student life at SUNY Cortland as part of Eighth Grade College Visit Day. 

As part of its High School Graduation Initiative and in partnership with Say Yes to Education Syracuse, the district seeks to have all of its eighth graders experience a college visit. Say Yes to Education is a national, non-profit foundation committed to dramatically increasing high school and college graduation rates for urban youth. The goal of the local unit’s visit is to open the students’ eyes to the possibilities of further education and career opportunities.

“We want students to start to make the connection between college and career goals,” said Deborah Howe-Tennant ’83, M ’01, the high school graduation initiative facilitator and Naviance coordinator of the Syracuse City School District.

“It is the first part of transitioning these students to high school,” said Howe-Tennant. “They were very excited to visit.”

The event included presentations on the college admission process, studying abroad, the Educational Opportunity Program and Say Yes to Education.

Career exploration workshops were presented by faculty, staff and students. The students finished their visit to the College with a guided campus tour.

Eighth Grade College Visit Day was formed as part of the SUNY educational pipeline initiative. The educational pipeline is a development of a comprehensive system of partnerships between SUNY’s 64 campuses and Pre-K-12 schools, business leaders and others dedicated to ensuring that more students graduate from college and are prepared to succeed in the workforce.

The event was organized by Howe-Tennant; Kristi Eck, assistant to operating director/higher education program specialist of Say Yes to Education Syracuse; Ashley Hoffman, SUNY Cortland admissions intern and a senior communication studies major; and Karen Seibert, the College’s coordinator for field experience and school partnerships.