College diversity programs that pay for high-achieving high school seniors – who are usually low-income, first generation or students of color – to visit campus, give teens who can't afford to travel out of state for a college tour the opportunity to try the college experience. The programs, typically called "fly-in" or multicultural programs, are two- to three-day college tours for prospective or admitted students from underrepresented backgrounds. Some schools invite all students to apply but give preference to low-income students. Fly-in programs give participants an opportunity to imagine life as a college freshman. Teens get an extensive look at student life, build connections and see if they can manage without having their parents nearby.
Prospective college students who attend these programs get an explanation of the admissions process that will be beneficial even if they don't apply to the school they visit, experts say. Admitted students get the opportunity to make sure the college meets their needs and expectations before they enroll. And the programs can give both groups of students enough support to ease the transition to college.