Terry Webb Jr. wasn’t interested in SUNY Oswego at all. Last year, the 16-year-old Syracuse native went to the state college hoping to find programs in technical engineering or math science. He came away unimpressed.
This year, Webb went on another trip, this time to a campus right down the street: Syracuse University.
“It was a good experience because S.U. does have a broad program for students who want to go into engineering, math science or technology,” the high school junior said. “Oswego is a little bit on the other side. I wasn’t too interested in that one.”
Webb is in his third year at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central, the fifth public school in the city. With fewer than 300 students, ITC has regularly outperformed the other public high schools in recent test scores.
It isn’t a charter school or a private school and doesn’t offer the same name or the caliber of athletic teams that other city schools can. But, it is highly connected with New York Gear Up, a state program focused on telling students about college and preparing them for it. ITC’s guidance counselor, Mike Filipski, is actively involved in Gear Up.
Without the presence of Gear Up, many young teens like Webb couldn’t pay to go on trips to see SUNY Oswego and Syracuse.
The director of the Gear Up program, Marissa Mims, says the SUNY school system pays for transportation and feeds the students once they get on campus. The entire day is free for the teenagers.
To prepare for the college trips, Mims has the teens meet with tutors to discuss key questions and tell them what they should be watching for on tours.
“We plan for half-days and days off from high school so they can go to SUNY Oswego, Binghamton and a couple others,” Mims said. “They can go see what it is like to be on a campus tour and can ask questions about what the campus is like. We offer several of these tours a year.”