From August 2 through August 5, 45 teens from nine YAL centers traveled to the University of California, Santa Cruz, to attend the California Police Activities League (PAL) Life After High School program. Hailing from Temple, East L.A., Walnut, Lakewood, Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Century, Norwalk and Industry YALs, the participants stayed overnight in the dorms and attended classes during the day to learn firsthand what college is like.
“The goal of the program is to prepare youth for college and take the shock factor out of attending school away from home,” says Temple YAL Deputy Art Valenzuela. “They experience living in dorms, eating cafeteria food, waking up and attending classes without parental supervision.”
Courses covered topics such as budgeting, living on or off campus, financial aid, resumes, interviews, male and female teen issues, and college applications. The youth also attended a dance held in their honor and spent time at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
Valenzuela notes that a measure of the program’s success is how dramatically it can expand young people’s horizons: “For many youth, it was the first time they had ever been on a university campus, and now they have goals of attending college beyond the local junior colleges.”
14-year-old Marianna Delgado from Temple YAL agrees; UC Santa Cruz is now her top college choice thanks to the program. “Life After High School opened my eyes to the possibility,” she says.