5 Reasons Why to Fly-In to College

By Robin Levi, SRA Advisor and College Outreach Manager 

It’s Fly-In season! Just last week, SRA high school seniors started flying around the country to visit colleges they dream of attending next year. As Fall continues, many more SRA students will participate in Fly-Ins from as close as Southern California to as far as Maine.  

Students apply for Fly-Ins during the summer and early fall. If accepted, the colleges fly the students in, where they will spend one or two nights with other high school seniors from similar backgrounds, attend classes and presentations, and learn about the school. Fly-Ins are extraordinarily competitive; with acceptance rates at 10-15 percent; they are consistently more competitive than getting accepted into the college itself!

Despite this difficulty, every year SRA has had at least 10 students selected to attend Fly-Ins. This year, with 10 acceptances out of 22 applicants, SRA has a much higher acceptance rate than the 15 percent average, with many more expected. While we’ve had students visit Lewis and Clark, University of Pennsylvania, and Wesleyan almost every year, we now have students participating in Amherst, Bowdoin, and Duke Fly-Ins, to name just a few.

Here are the top reasons why to Fly-In:

  1. Students can visit a college campus even if you do not have the financial means
  2. Because Fly-In Programs focus on underrepresented students, all the programming and hosts are chosen with that population in mind
  3. Students can learn what you want in your college experience: Large or small? Urban or rural?
  4. Even if a student is not accepted to a Fly-In, it shows their interest to the college and many colleges will provide a leg up to Fly-In applicants
  5. They are FUN! Students meet many peers from similar backgrounds with the same dream of going to college

As first-generation, low-income students, most of whom are of color, getting accepted by Students Rising Above may be the first time that they have realized that college is a possibility. It is difficult to make a decision about applications with limited knowledge; Fly-Ins can make up that gap.

“Visiting Bowdoin, I didn’t know what to expect. However as the days went on, I slowly started to fall more and more in love with it,” said Lilliana Sandoval, senior at Antioch High School.From the students to the faculty to the town, it’s provides a great sense of community. I also really enjoyed how close it is to nature, right out your back door.”

Fly-Ins are a critical part of the college application process for first-generation students. They provide an excellent way for students to explore new college options that they never would have heard of without the encouragement from their SRA Advisors and College Outreach Team.

“I had East coast schools on my list, but knew very little about the East coast. I am a first-generation, low income student, so going across the country for college seemed unrealistic. That belief changed fairly quickly after my Fly-In to Wesleyan University, when I realized what a small university looked like and eventually understood that Wesleyan was the best fit for me,” said Sharit Cardenas, Wesleyan University senior.For me, applying to the Fly-In program not only allowed me to attach a campus to an application, but also exposed me to a completely different environment that I otherwise, likely wouldn’t have been able to experience given my family’s economic background.”