Tyree Boyd-Pates, a Cal State Bakersfield junior, served as a master of ceremonies Tuesday morning outside East High School. It was his goal to get high-schoolers there excited about higher education.
"Go, to, college!" three groups of students yelled.
Student outreach representatives from California State University, CSUB and AT&T made stops at East and North High schools Tuesday to help students prepare for college.
Hundreds of students boarded a supped up CSU "Road to College" tour bus wired with several laptop computers teens used to watch videos, explore careers and learn about financial aid.
"I'm 100 percent sure I'm going to college," said freshman Stephanie Aparicio, who hopes to go to UC Berkeley or UC San Diego. "I'm just making sure to get my requirements done and looking for financial aid."
Aparicio is one of dozens of students in the CSU College Corps program who attended the mini-field trip. The program, which connects high school students with CSUs, gets freshmen focused on completing requirements needed to graduate high school and to go to college, said East counselor Angela Miller.
In front of East's campus where the tour bus parked, students took photos in a booth wearing a cap and gown, and held a "class of 2017" sign.
The bus this year is making 46 stops, mostly at middle schools. It's important to motivate students at a young age, especially with all the negative news circling around, said Carolina Cardenas, associate director of academic outreach and early assessment for CSU's Chancellor's Office.
Colleges and universities statewide are being forced to cut millions because of state budget demands. Fewer students are being admitted as colleges cap enrollment. Those enrolled are having trouble adding impacted classes they need. And fees are rising.
"We want to be as positive as we can be. It's still possible to go to college," Cardenas said. "If students are academically prepared early on, they have a better chance of going."
Being enthusiastic about going to college is easy for Boyd-Pates, a Hollywood native who grew up in a low-income family. His grandmother, who raised him, instilled in him the importance of higher education, he said.
Help he received, including four scholarships he's using at CSUB, allowed him to continue his education.
"If it wasn't for outreach I received, I couldn't have gone to college," Boyd-Pates said.
For freshman Hiroshi Feliciano, who wants to be an architect, getting into college comes down to one thing, he said.
"Get good grades," Feliciano said.