Free ‘Discover Your PATHe’ event to give high school students a feel for college experience

ST. PETERSBURG — A college or university degree should be accessible to any student who wants one. That’s the motive behind the Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe), a community outreach program offered by USF St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg College, which provides equitable and attainable pathways to higher education for all students in Pinellas County.

On July 9, the program will host Discover Your PATHe at USFSP and SPC. The free, three-day event will give 80 high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to experience campus life and learn about the things students experience in their journey through post-secondary education. Interested students can apply with a short video and essay. Applications are now open at

 “We’re looking for rising juniors and seniors who want to experience what it’s like to be on a college campus,” said Sandy DeCarlo, a PATHe counselor at USFSP. “During this event, students will be able to talk with college students about their experiences and ask questions about what it’s like to attend a university.”

 Discover Your PATHe will include workshops and presentations for students and their family members, helping them conquer some of the more challenging aspects of higher education, such as financial responsibility, as well as networking and setting career goals. Students will stay in a USFSP residence hall to get the complete campus experience.

By the end of the event, students will better understand college admissions, develop a plan for how to apply, identify key test strategies to use on admissions tests and practice principles of time management. Fun and energetic activities will be mixed with more technical learning lessons. Perhaps most importantly, students will establish connections with other students from local high schools, USFSP and SPC.

 “Making friends is often high on the priority list for students, so there will be plenty of time for students to connect with fellow students,” said DeCarlo.

 PATHe was launched to help increase the accessibility of college and university degrees for students from Pinellas County. PATHe counselors work closely with students to create individualized plans to transition into higher education, whether that is a state college, a four-year university or technical college.

“PATHe’s goal is to inspire, support and guide students, their families, and community members in Pinellas County about all the resources available for post-secondary education,” said Carolina Nutt, director of COMPASS Student Experience at USFSP. “This, at times, can be an overwhelming process, so we are trying to simplify the process by providing a comprehensive service to help all Pinellas County students reach their goals and potential.

“Our counselors are able to provide resources and advice regarding the college admissions process, choosing a particular institution and major, and financial resources,” she added. “This program is unique because it allows us to get to know students individually and really understand their circumstances to craft a plan that will work for them.”

Through Discover Your PATHe, students, and families who are undecided about the merits of higher education can experience firsthand what it takes to pursue a degree successfully.

 “We want to share college campus experience with students who don’t know if college is a good fit for them,” said DeCarlo. “Discover Your PATHe will help those students explore their options after high school and figure out where they might be a good fit.”

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