On Thursday November 9th, YO S.O.S hosted a College Panel and Fair at Repair the Word, entitled, “College Night: It’s A Different World!” There were 12 panelists, all men and women of color, who spoke about their experiences at many schools including Howard, Harvard, FIT, Fisk, Morrisville, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego, Connecticut College, and Earlham. The topics ranged from their favorite parts of the college experience, to issues of bias on college campuses to the biggest mistake they made in college and how they overcame their obstacles to success.

After the panel, the college representatives made themselves available to speak with the youth one-on-one and provided educational materials and advice for youth who walked around to speak with them. In addition to the alumni and college admissions representatives, there was a financial aid representative that helped youth and their families fill out their FAFSA and TAP applications. There was also a representative who answered questions about registering for the SATs who will be continuing to work with youth offering free tutoring and college essay assistance. Additionally, there was a representative from Safe Horizon who gave out resources on consent and sexual assault.

The event was attended by forty-five youth participants from the YO S.O.S, JCP, and S.O.S. programs along with their families and friends. Staff from S.O.S. and Make It Happen were also in attendance. In addition to building new relationships and receiving helpful advice from panelists, all guests enjoyed a full dinner with food from Gloria’s Caribbean Cuisine and left with S.O.S. swag giveaways.

One YO S.O.S alum noted, “Even though I’m a junior, it felt very motivational and inspiring that adults took the time out of the day to speak to me about the college application process and how to do the FAFSA. I felt a sense of community with the adults.”

A panelist who represented SUNY Morrisville said, “It was great to see how interested the youth were in college and in continuing their education and I’m glad that I was able to talk to them about my experiences. I hope that my words will help them prepare for their futures.”

Youth looking for continued assistance in the college process can email yosos@crownheights.org or stop by the office for on-site test prep resources or to use the public computer to work on essays and applications.