“The College Tour” helps students find their college

“The College Tour” helps students find their college

National Report I October 20, 2022

“The College Tour” films on campus

By Kate Murphy, The Northern Iowan I October 16, 2022

Television personality Alex Boylan was on campus the week of Oct. 10-14 filming for the UNI episode of “The College Tour.” The initial call for students to submit videos telling their stories and connection to UNI was sent out in August. Ten students were selected to be featured on the show as it profiles the university and all it offers.

UNI students to be featured in 30-minute episode to be released in 2023

The series “The College Tour” began filming on UNI’s campus this past Monday and will be released in 2023.

The episode will follow 10 different UNI students and their personal experiences at the University of Northern Iowa. “The College Tour” streams on Roku and Amazon and will feature a 30-mintue episode about UNI’s campus.

Pete Moris, director of university relations, said a lot of preparation and planning on the part of the University Relations staff went into filming on campus. 

“Jess Betts and Sean O’Neal were the two individuals who primarily worked hands-on with the producers and the crew, and they did a great job.” Moris said.

The series was created by many award-winning producers including Alex Boylan and Lisa Hennessy. The first episode aired in Sept. 2020. One of the reasons for creating this series was due to the pandemic occurring in 2020. College tours were shut down during the pandemic, but this series made it possible to tour campuses virtually.

Moris said they got so many students submitting their stories on campus. The toughest part was narrowing down the list of students participating to only 10.

“We had so many great submissions from our students,” Moris said, “It was really a good problem to have with so many UNI students wanting to tell their compelling story about their UNI experience.”

The series plans to showcase what each student enjoys most about UNI and the Cedar Valley. Each student’s story is going to be a unique experience they’ve had as a UNI Panther.

“There’s really a diverse cross-section of our campus represented. One of our objectives was to highlight the best that UNI has to offer and it was tough to really narrow things down to 10 students and their stories.” Moris said. 

Moris thinks one of the best things about this series is that it showcases real students that are not acting. The series is a reality TV show that features different college campuses every episode. According to Moris, each student submitted a video sharing their stories and why they wanted to be involved in the production.

“For one student, they wanted to talk about how their financial aid package made a four-year degree accessible,” Moris said, “We’ve got other students talking about how much they love the arts and theater scene on campus. For another student, the sense of community and the relationships they’ve developed was an area they wanted to accentuate.”

According to Moris, the objective of having the University of Northern Iowa featured in this series is to show people what a wonderful place UNI really is. 

“We’re excited about the vast audience that will get to see UNI featured on a variety of platforms,” Moris said, “We’re really looking forward to seeing all the planning and hard work showcase the many positive things UNI has to offer.”

Moris believes that it’s always better for students and parents to come see campus in person, however, “The College Tour” is a great way to introduce folks to UNI and hopefully spark their interest in becoming Panthers.

The full episode with host Alex Boylan is set for release sometime in early 2023. Moris said behind-the-scenes and teasers will be released leading up to the official launch of the episode. 

“If you’re a high school student, take a look at our campus and all we have to offer from students who are here right now.” Moris said.

Maricopa Community Colleges highlighted in inaugural Spanish-language episode of ‘The College Tour’

By Queen Creek Sun Times Staff, Queen Creek Sun Times I October 15, 2022

Community college system celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by showcasing diverse student voices on fall series

1 / 3 The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), with 10 individually accredited colleges throughout the Greater Phoenix area, will offer four-year degrees in fall 2023, pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission, and begin competing with some of the nation’s most established universities. With nearly 100,000 students, MCCCD understands its worth and isn’t afraid to reshape the traditional narrative of higher education. To prove it, MCCCD is the first institution of higher education to produce a Spanish language episode of “The College Tour,” an Amazon Prime Video series that offers potential students an inside look at what life is truly like at some of the nation’s largest universities.Kelly Mixer|Queen Creek Sun Times

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), with 10 individually accredited colleges throughout the Greater Phoenix area, will offer four-year degrees in fall 2023, pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission, and begin competing with some of the nation’s most established universities. With nearly 100,000 students, MCCCD understands its worth and isn’t afraid to reshape the traditional narrative of higher education. To prove it, MCCCD is the first institution of higher education to produce a Spanish language episode of “The College Tour,” an Amazon Prime Video series that offers potential students an inside look at what life is truly like at some of the nation’s largest universities.

The Spanish episode can be viewed on MCCCD’s dedicated landing page, with a forthcoming release on Amazon’s premium free streaming service. Each of the 20 unique student segments showcase all the system has to offer, including affordability, state-of-the-art programs, dual enrollment and unique opportunities for adult learners and first-generation college students — all told through the eyes of each student.

“Nine of our 10 colleges are designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and 36% of our student population identify as Hispanic, we felt a great responsibility to share these stories with our community,” said MCCCD Chancellor Dr. Steven R. Gonzales. “As a system, we are always seeking out trailblazing ideas and new methods of communication to meet students where they are, and keep MCCCD top of mind as the best choice for an affordable, high-quality education.” 

According to 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals who identified as Hispanic or Latino made up the second-largest demographic group in the City of Phoenix. Additionally, from 2010 to 2020, Maricopa County saw the third-largest Hispanic population increase in the country. Data collected by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of Latinos enrolled in college increased from 2.9 million in 2010 to 4.1 million in 2021.

“We work to serve the next generation of students and hope the series inspires them to further their education,” said Executive Producer Alex Boylan. “Our show is inclusive to everybody, and each episode features diverse student voices because we want everyone to realize that college is accessible, and dreams are accessible as well.”

The episode highlights the fact that with more than 40 college and university partnerships and over 600 degree and certificate programs, students have plenty of options based on their goals and their needs, whether completing a degree or certificate, transferring to a university, learning new career skills or entering the workforce right away. The episode’s host, Lorena Segura, takes viewers on a road trip from one end of the Valley to the other to listen to the amazing and diverse stories the Greater Phoenix community has to offer. 

“Without a doubt, the most exciting part is sharing my story and representing the Latin community and my home country of Mexico,” said Scottsdale Community College student, Camila Maldonado. Being able to show that I’m here studying and all of the opportunities this country has provided makes me excited to share the episode with all of my family and friends.” 

The Spanish episode features the following current and former MCCCD students:

  • Chandler-Gilbert Community College: First-generation college student Frida Guzman made her dreams a reality at CGCC, where she is currently enrolled as an honors student. Guzman appreciates that CGCC makes her education affordable. She hopes to inspire future female generations by helping them realize that obtaining a college education is achievable.
  • Chandler-Gilbert Community College: Lourdes Sanchez’s dream of becoming a scientist took her from the desert city of Yuma to CGCC. She loves that the college finds ways to connect her social interests, like volunteering, to her coursework and student life.
  • Mesa Community College: Adolfo Tenorio shares why attending MCC was one of the best decisions of his life. As a first-generation college student, Tenorio appreciated the guidance and support MCC’s faculty and staff provided. Now, he’s paying it forward as a tutor for other students on campus. 
  • Mesa Community College: Andrea Gallegos always knew she wanted to be an engineer, but wasn’t sure which area of study to focus on until she found MCC’s Mechanical Drafting program. Gallegos loves the small class sizes and affordable tuition. Through the MAPP MyPath2ASU program, she can easily transfer her credits to Arizona State University. 
  • Scottsdale Community College: Camila Maldonado chose SCC for its world-class dance program. She enjoys that the program focuses on all facets of the dance and entertainment industry. Thanks to the helpful faculty and instructors, Maldonado has found her community and has taken her passion for dance to the next level.
  • Scottsdale Community College: Alondra Moguel always heard community college was more affordable than university, and now believes it’s true thanks to SCC. As a first-generation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student she enjoys the flexible learning options that allow her to take classes online and in person, as she balances working full time. 
  • GateWay Community College: Desiree Sanchez began her educational journey in the ACE (Achieving a College Education) program, which allowed her to earn up to 24 college credits before she graduated from GateWay Early College High School. The best part? All of her college classes were free through the program!
  • GateWay Community College: Daniel Castaneda Martinez is focused on a career in computer science and information technology. He believes that education will create a better future for himself and his family. He is thankful for the patience and support of the college’s instructors and staff in helping him select a program he’s passionate about and making him feel represented. 
  • Phoenix College: Hugo Calel already had a career but felt unfulfilled and was ready to reskill and re-career for a role in the medical field. Calel chose PC for its longstanding reputation in the community. As an adult learner, he was worried about returning to college, but believes this has been one of the best experiences of his life. 
  • Phoenix College: Romeo Lebron came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in search of the American dream. After losing out on a job due to his limited English, he learned that PC offers one of the most diverse English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in Arizona and immediately enrolled. The college’s staff connected him with financial aid resources to help him cover the cost of tuition. Now, Lebron is on track to graduate and transfer to Arizona State University.
  • Rio Salado College: Originally from Cuba, Vera Batista enrolled in classes online at Rio Salado with the goal of learning English and kick-starting her career in the healthcare industry. Batista loves the college’s flexible learning formats and that Rio’s staff have been supportive throughout her educational journey.
  • Rio Salado College: Giselle Velazquez is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, who came to the U.S. with big dreams, including obtaining her citizenship. Convenient online classes are what led her to Rio Salado, where she graduated with her associate degree in cybersecurity before using a transfer partnership to move on to a university to complete her bachelor’s degree. 
  • South Mountain Community College: After struggling in high school, Evaristo Perez returned to college as an adult learner with the goal of completing his education to make his parents proud. He credits his academic advisor for his guidance and support. Now that he’s back on track, he enjoys taking part in student workshops and studying in the library. 
  • South Mountain Community College: Julio Cesar Villarreal Jr. channeled his passion for debate and competition into a degree in political science. He enjoys attending sporting events and interacting with students from all different backgrounds on SMCC’s campus. He hopes to pursue a degree and a career in law. 
  • Glendale Community College: Luis Tirado is a passionate soccer player who found new friends, teammates and his community at GCC. Thanks to the athletic department’s guidance, Tirado is able to take prerequisite courses, setting him up to transfer and complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
  • Glendale Community College: Joana Huaracha Franco always knew she wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from college. She began her academic journey in the ACE (Achieving a College Education) program. Thanks to GCC’s excellent advising, tutors and professors, she was able to find the right classes and learned how to navigate higher education.
  • Estrella Mountain Community College: Enrolling at EMCC was a natural choice for Esperanza Cadena, who knew she wanted to be close to home and family while attending college. With help from her professors and advisors, she was able to keep her GPA above 3.5 and take part in clubs, sports and even served as a student ambassador. 
  • Estrella Mountain Community College: Luis Beltran was looking for a college with innovative programs to keep him engaged and on track. He found that and more at EMCC. In his freshman year, Beltran is studying mechanical engineering and appreciates the one-on-one support he receives from his advisors, tutors and professors. 
  • Paradise Valley Community College: Cynthia Rojas Rangel’s parents emigrated from Mexico with the dream of pursuing higher education. Her journey at PVCC began as a junior in high school taking college courses through the ACE (Achieving a College Education) program. Thanks to the resources offered by PVCC, she was able to learn how to navigate college as a first-generation, Latina student.
  • Paradise Valley Community College: Damaris Sanchez moved from Mexico with the hopes of attending a large university. Due to her limited English proficiency, financial resources and culture shock, Sanchez was in need of an educational lifeline, which turned out to be PVCC. She was drawn to the campus’ beauty and chose PVCC for its affordable tuition, small class sizes and student resources. 

Visit maricopa.edu/college-tour-spanish to hear the students’ stories and get a behind-the-scenes look at how this episode came together. Learn more about Maricopa Community Colleges and the new four-year degrees they hope to offer as soon as fall of 2023.

‘The College Tour’ comes to Arizona, makes seeing campuses accessible to low-income students

By Bridget Dowd, Fronteras I October 12, 2022

Choosing where to go to college is a big decision for anyone. Visiting college campuses can make that decision easier, but not everyone gets that opportunity.

Marcos De Niza High School in Tempe serves a lot of low income and Hispanic students. Many of them will be the first in their family to go on to higher education.

Erin Smith is the Counseling Department Lead there. She said when students talk to her about college, the first question they ask is:

“Can we afford it? Is it even within my reach?”

Many of her students think college is simply not an option for them.

“Maybe they need to work to support their family at home,” Smith said. “We definitely have conversations with them all the time about how accessible it is, especially at the community college level.”

But how do students know where they want to go, especially if they can’t afford to visit some campuses in person? 

Erin Smith is the Counseling Department Lead at Marcos De Niza High School.

This is something that television producer Alex Boylan has thought a lot about. Two years ago, he started a show called “The College Tour.”

“Each episode tells the story of a different college campus across America,” Boylan said.

The show takes viewers on a virtual tour of each school’s classrooms and features their students’ academic journeys.

“So no matter where you are in your potential college journey search, whether you’re a young person in high school or an adult learner, you get to get a real sense of what that campus, the culture, the feeling is really all about,” Boylan said.

The show has released about 100 episodes in its first two years.

“There’s 2,500 four-year institutions and above, there’s another 900 community colleges across the country,” Boylan said. “That’s a lot. We want to tell the story of every single one of them.”

The idea for the show came up when Boylan’s niece started looking at schools. She took a trip to visit a few campuses in California.

“Soon after that, she was like, ‘I wanna go look at schools in Arizona and I wanna look at schools in Florida, Texas, New York and everywhere else,’” Boylan said. “Her mom, was like ‘What do you think, we’re made of money?’ Most people do not have the finances to travel across America and just go step foot on campus at every place they want to.”

Now the show is making those tours accessible to even more families. Producers released their first Spanish language episode in August, featuring the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Boylan said they were in the process of filming an English episode at the school when they started to think about the large population of students from families whose parents and grandparents only speak Spanish. 

“We want to make sure we’re speaking to them because when you look into the LatinX and Hispanic market, when their young person is going off to school, the whole family feels like they’re going off to school,” Boylan said. “It’s their culture.”  

Frida Guzman was featured on the Spanish episode of “The College Tour.” She is originally from Mexico City and moved to Arizona when she was 15 years old to attend high school.

That was the case for Frida Guzman, who was featured on the Spanish episode of “The College Tour.” She is originally from Mexico City and moved to Arizona when she was 15 years old to attend high school.

“When I saw the difference between my country and this country, I felt like this was the perfect place for me to grow.”

She moved in with some family members who lived in Gilbert, without her parents by her side.

“English is not my first language. So I had to go to English As A Second Language (ESL) classes for some time,” Guzman said. “I honestly didn’t know what was going to be after high school.”

But she did well in her classes, got a scholarship to Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and now is in her second year of studying business. She said sometimes she’s still surprised that today she’s an American college student.

So when she heard “The College Tour” was looking for students to feature in their program, she jumped at the chance.

“When I came here, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of representation so for me,” Guzman said. “It’s important for [people] to know that immigrants or first generation students or women can do it.”

After getting her associates degree, Guzman plans to transfer to Arizona State for a bachelor’s in business administration. She’ll be the first in her family to do so.

EDITOR’S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to The Maricopa Community College District.

The College Tour TV Series Makes Higher Education Accessible to All

By Samantha Jonas-Hain, Edutorial Nigeria I October 8, 2022

International students seeking meaningful information about higher education abroad, are no longer bound by geography thanks to The College Tour TV series and website, which give students an up-close look at colleges and universities through the lens of their diverse student body. The College Tour is also an incredible online resource that gives people tools to decide which school will work best for them. All episodes of the series are available to stream on Amazon Prime and are also available for free on The College Tour app and website, giving unprecedented access to information, regardless of your location or finances. This is the ultimate in equity, and they are having a profound impact on students around the world.

“The goal was to create a show that can be seen by anyone, anywhere. It is not always possible to travel and look at a school, and it is extremely important that international students are afforded the same access to information as anyone else so they can make smart decisions about higher education based on their own individual needs,” said host, co-creator, and executive producer Alex Boylan.

Boylan, who won The Amazing Race, teamed up with Hollywood powerhouse Lisa Hennessy and Survivor finalist Burton Roberts to create a groundbreaking show that is now being used by counsellors and teachers as an educational tool to motivate students about higher education.

“Counselors have reached out letting us know that because of our show many students are choosing to further their education by attending college. We even created free classes on our website to help students choose the right school that will work best for them,” added Boylan.

One of the most unique free classes they offer is one specifically designed for first-generation college goers, who often feel lost, and overwhelmed throughout the process. Parents who didn’t attend college are using the class, as well, to help them guide their children and be part of the decision-making. Other classes include an international class, majors , and their “core” class which breaks down what to look for in a college.

The site also has additional resources, such as digital series and blogs that talk about everything from financial aid to the admissions process. The whole point is to take away the stress and replace it will be easy to understand information. They are also dedicated to showcasing a wide group of voices, so everyone watching can have the chance to relate and feel represented. From first-generation collegegoers to international students and students with autism or hearing impairments, every group is seen and celebrated for their own success.

“I’m so happy I got to experience such an amazing college setting. It has shaped me into being a more active, well-rounded individual with a global mindset and a diverse perspective on the world,” said Nigerian transfer student Binta Olabisi, who was featured in the Florida International University episode. Olabisi, spent three years at FIU, graduating with a BA in Economics, after having served as vice president of the Undergraduates Economic Club, member of the National Business Honor Society and member of Tau Sigma National Honor Society.

The College Tour is now filming its 7th season and continues to dedicate itself to ensuring a brighter future for today’s students.  To view episodes, watch digital series or take The Class, please visit Home – TheCollegeTour.com.

Amazon Series ‘The College Tour’ Features Ramapo In Mahwah

By Logan Williamson, Patch.Com I October 3, 2022

Ramapo College of New Jersey is featured in an episode on Season 6 of “The College Tour,” an Amazon Prime series highlighting U.S. colleges.

An Amazon Prime series is featuring Ramapo College on a Season 6 half-hour episode, interviewing students who embody the college’s mascot, the Roadrunner. (Shutterstock)

MAHWAH, NJ — Named to Conde Nast’s Traveler’s 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America, Ramapo College of New Jersey was featured in an episode of “The College Tour,” an Amazon Prime series spotlighting colleges and universities across the nation. An exclusive on-campus screening with the student cast in attendance will be held on Oct. 13.

Just a bus ride away from New York City is the liberal arts school, where
“opportunity abounds,” show host Alex Boylan said at the start of the episode.

“Small class sizes and engaged faculty members offer hands-on learning and individual student attention,” Boylan added. “Students aren’t just given a voice; they are encouraged to raise their own.”

Over the half-hour episode, viewers will meet Ramapo students who embody their mascot — the Roadrunner — in that they are “always on the move,” Boylan said.

Each episode of the show tells the story of a college through the lens of its students, according to the show’s website. During Ramapo’s free screening event, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Sharp Theater, clips of the episode will be premiered, college spokesperson Angela Daidone said.

“It is no wonder why Ramapo is a nationally top-ranked public college,” Boylan said in the episode’s intro, referring to its four-year graduation rates that exceed national averages and “innovative academics.”

The Key To Success in The Television Industry With Lisa Hennessy

ACTION & AMBITION Podcast, Entrepreneur Magazine I September 28, 2022

Welcome to another episode of The Action and Ambition Podcast! Joining us today is Lisa Hennessy, an Emmy-nominated TV Producer, content creator, entrepreneur, and global citizen. Her career began in Television in 1995. For 14 years, she served as one of the driving forces behind Mark Burnett Productions. As an original member of the company, Hennessy played an integral role in developing and producing MBP television programs. She is now the Executive Producer of The College Tour, a TV series that tells the story of colleges and universities across the country.​ Today, she explains how you can prosper in the television industry. Tune in to learn more!

A New Way to Experience College Tours

By Liz Yokubisony, LizYokubisony.com I September 27, 2022

College tours can be daunting, to say the least. Narrowing down which colleges to visit can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. For both parents and students. Add to that inflated gas prices and airfares, and many parents would prefer to avoid the expense and hassle altogether. Enter The College Tour – a new way to experience college tours. From the comfort of your own living room.

An Alternative to Expensive College Tours

The College Tour (TCT) offers students and their parents the chance to watch student-led college tours via Amazon Prime. Not an Amazon subscriber? No problem. TCT is also available free of charge via Freevee and on the website itself. They even have an app. The goal? To ensure that the content is accessible to everyone.

The genesis of the idea came from the show’s co-founder and host Alex Boylan. Alex got his start in television by winning The Amazing Race, and later went on to build an impressive resume of creating, hosting, and producing TV shows.

A few years ago, when Alex’s niece was in high school, she and her mother stayed at his home in Venice, California while touring campuses in southern California. After a few days, his niece started talking about wanting to visit colleges in Texas and New York. Much to the chagrin of her mother, who had intended for this to be her one and only college tour trip.

Alex started helping his niece research colleges online and was quickly overwhelmed. “With 900 community colleges and 2500 four-year colleges/universities, I thought how can we distill all this information?” recalls Alex. “It was the first time I created a show based on a problem that I was dealing with. And that’s exactly how The College Tour was born.”

Alex tapped friends and colleagues to create a team of 60 talented people, many of whom helped build Survivor and The Biggest Loser, that share a passion for the show. And while it takes up to six months to produce one episode of TCT, they work lock step with the universities every step of the way. “I never would have thought in a million years that Hollywood and higher education would work together so well,” Alex says with a smile.

The show is student led, featuring real college students who share their personal stories and individualized college experiences. The idea is to utilize an older demographic (current college students) to reach a younger demographic (high school students) and get them excited about attending college.

“It is an honor and a pleasure to be in the position we are to lift up higher education,” says Alex. “If you need to be inspired by the next generation, watch The College Tour. These young people are incredible, so special. If there’s one thing America can get behind, it is the future of our children.”

A Diverse Mix of College Tours

Currently, five seasons of the show are live, and profile over 50 different college campuses. TCT operates on a rolling launch – meaning that as soon as an episode is complete, it is rolled out on the website and the app. Then it is released as an entire season on Amazon Prime and Freevee. Season 6 is scheduled for a November 2022 release.

The diversity of colleges profiled each season is impressive. For example, Season 1 features Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, Arizona State University and Delaware Valley University, to name just a few. This means that prospective students can watch a tour about a small liberal arts college in the heart of the mountains, one of the largest universities in the country and a small, private school that focuses on agribusiness and animal sciences.

According to Alex. “Our goal is to tell the story of each and every four-year college and community college. It’s a massive passion project and the way we’ve approached it to date is staying diversified. Each school is so different, in terms of location and culture, and we want to get to everyone, but our biggest limitation is the timing.”

Student Led Campus Tours

The focus on diversity is also reflected by which students The College Tour selects to profile on each campus. TCT offers open casting at each location which means that any student can apply to be on the show. “When we’re casting, we’re thinking about diversity. The idea is for prospective students to watch a full-fledged experience at one college from 10 different student perspectives rather than a single tour guide, like traditional campus tours,” says Alex.

Each episode is designed to show the heart and soul of the campus, which is a collective goal of TCT and the selected university. Together they evaluate the best stories to tell until slowly the episode starts to reveal itself. Each student writes their own first draft of the script for their segment, so the stories are genuine and individualized.

After casting is complete, TCT does a full onboarding with each student, helping craft their authentic story. Then they are all given a crash course in media training, so they are comfortable in front of the camera. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that some of best directors in the industry are working with these students, ensuring that the end product is a source of pride to the student, the university and TCT.

Value of The College Tour to Parents

As an extremely cost-effective alternative to traditional college tours, TCT is a conduit to get students to campus without leaving home. In fact, many families are sitting down and watching an episode together, once a week.

“TCT really puts the parent on the same page with the student, allowing them to connect with their student and have great conversations,” says Alex.

“We are doing the best job possible to bring you to that campus from your living room, while saving you time, energy and money.”

Additionally, at the suggestion of high school college counselors, TCT offers an online class, at no charge, to help students prioritize their interests and narrow the search process. “The class is organized into bite sized pieces, layering the information while giving context to what you’re watching,” says Alex. “It lays out, on a macro level, what students need to be thinking about as they start to narrow down colleges that interest them.”

There are three more classes in the cue: the newly launched first-generation class, and the upcoming classes focused on international students and majors. All these classes will pull videos from the show to help high school students get inspired to take the next step in their college search process.

“On an extremely macro level TCT’s goal is to inspire high schoolers to graduate high school and go on and get a higher education degree no matter what that looks like – a certificate, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate,” reflects Alex. “The best thing is figuring out what you want to do in life and getting the education to make that happen. Hopefully The College Tour is a small part that.”

Amazon Prime series features Scottsdale Community College students

Episode follows students from Maricopa County Community College District

By Ariana Grainey, Daily Independent I September 12, 2022

Photo By Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia

With nearly 100,000 students, Maricopa County Community College District understands its worth and isn’t afraid to reshape the traditional narrative of higher education.

To prove it, MCCCD is the nation’s first community college system to be featured on “The College Tour,” an Amazon Prime Video series that offers prospective students an inside look at what campus life is truly like at some of the nation’s largest universities, according to a press release.

The district, with ten individually accredited colleges throughout the greater Phoenix area, will offer four-year degrees in fall 2023, pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission, and begin competing with some of the nation’s most established universities.

Even more important, MCCCD is now the first institution in the show’s history to develop and produce a fully dedicated Spanish-language episode that reflects the system’s diverse student population, the press release stated.

MCCCD’s English episode kicks off Season 5 of “The College Tour” and can be viewed across a number of streaming platforms, including the district’s dedicated landing page, The College Tour’s website and mobile app, IMDb TV, and Amazon’s premium free streaming service.

Additionally, the Spanish-language episode can be found on the district’s website, with a forthcoming Amazon Prime release currently in the works, the release explained.

Each of MCCCD’s twenty unique student segments showcase all the system has to offer including affordability, re-careering, adult learners, dual enrollment, and state-of-the-art programs — told through the eyes of each student.

“We are taking a bold step forward to join the ranks of top-tier, four-year universities in offering premium bachelor’s degrees in some of the most highly-sought after industries,” MCCCD’s interim chancellor Dr. Steven R. Gonzales stated in the release.

“It is important that we leverage new communication channels like this to increase accessibility to students, and meet them where they are when searching for a high-caliber education,” Gonzales detailed. “This amplifies our student’s message, increases awareness of our capabilities, and demonstrates the System’s commitment to meeting the lifelong learning needs of the students and communities we serve.”

The episode highlights the fact that with more than 40 college and university partnerships and over 600 degree and certificate programs, students have plenty of options to choose from based on their goals and whether they want to transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree, learn new career skills or enter the workforce right away.

Photo By Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia

“The story of the Maricopa Community Colleges is so important, and unlike anything we’ve ever created before,” stated executive producer and host, Alex Boylan. “We live in a media-driven world, where diverse stories matter, so to be able to capture the essence of ten colleges that are part of one of the largest community college systems in the nation is really special and I can’t wait for the audience to see it.”

Boylan takes viewers on a road trip from one end of the Valley to the other to listen to the amazing and diverse stories of MCCCD students, such as engineering student William Boutin, a re-careering student and former race car engineer, who attends Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Boutin stated in the release, “One of my engineering professors works full-time for an aerospace company and still takes the time to teach at CGCC. This type of connection is critical because students can learn real-world problems that current industry engineers are facing.”

The English episode features two Scottsdale Community College students.

The first, Amaya Ellis, is a health and exercise science major who fell in love with the campus during a tour, according to the release. Thanks to the flexible learning modalities, she was able to take classes online and utilize in-person resources that allow her to work at her own pace while spending time with the 27 animals she cares for.

Curtis Wilmer, the other student from SCC and a psychology major, is a re-careering student who is pursuing a career as a clinical psychologist. He found passionate faculty, interesting classes and affordable tuition at SCC. Wilmer loved the sense of community and encouragement offered by the professors and staff, the release stated.

Curtis Wilmer, the other student from SCC and a psychology major, is a re-careering student who is pursuing a career as a clinical psychologist. He found passionate faculty, interesting classes and affordable tuition at SCC. Wilmer loved the sense of community and encouragement offered by the professors and staff, the release stated.

Additionally, two students from Paradise Valley Community College were also included in the episode: Jeremiah Horton and Jennifer Chaudhry.

Horton, a dental hygiene major, is a first-generation student who relocated from Mississippi and considers PVCC his home away from home. As an African American and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, he always felt welcomed on campus and was part of the college’s film club and emerging leaders club.

Chaudhry is a nursing major who went back to college to re-career. The release explained that when her first child was born with a cleft palate, she found her calling and set out to work in a NICU, but didn’t have the opportunity until she found PVCC, an affordable college with an online curriculum.

Visit https://www.maricopa.edu/college-tour to hear the students’ stories and get a behind-the-scenes look at how this episode came together. Learn more about the new  four-year degrees that they hope to offer as soon as fall of 2023.

‘The College Tour,’ Which Helps Students Save Money, Just Released Their First Spanish-Language Episode

By  Guisell Gomez, BELatina Magazine I September 7, 2022

College culture is encompassed by many factors. It’s not just buying college books and filling out your FAFSA application; it’s more than that. 

From choosing the right college to the way you pay off your schooling, it is not congruent with everyone’s situation. Here’s the thing: Choosing the right college is not usually an eenie-miney-mo scenario. 

Many people want to ensure they choose the right campus and college programs. That’s where college visits come into play; it seems like the ideal next step. Yet, it can incur some heavy costs. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, visiting colleges and universities can cost $2,000. And that’s for just one trip. Factor in lodging, food, and anything else to make the trip comfortable, and the expenses will increase. 

For many U.S.-based Latinos taking the next step into their future, the option to tour a college before sending their applications is not always viable. Remember that more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) Latino students are the first in their family to attend college, which means they count on limited guidance as they embark on their journey in higher education. 

Creating equitable access to education

This is another example of inequitable access to education. Thankfully, it’s being combatted by people using media and technology to give others virtual tours of college campuses. 

For instance, The College Tour empowers high school students to virtually travel across America for an inside look at colleges and universities.

“Our show is inclusive to everybody. Every episode features diverse student voices, all sharing their own unique experiences in higher education,”  show host and co-creator Alex Boylan told BELatina News in an interview.

“The show has a heart and the show has a purpose, and in each episode, there are important stories to tell.”

The College Tour, which is executive produced by Emmy-nominated producers Alex Boylan, Lisa Hennessy, and Burton Roberts, is available on Amazon Prime’s free streaming service and its website. In order to give aspiring students the full picture, each episode of The College Tour showcases the college or university through the eyes of current students, where they talk about academics, sports, extracurricular activities, and more. This gives the interested students at home a different perspective aside from what the college or university advertises. Currently, shooting its seventh season, the series has filmed in over 75  colleges, including the University of Illinois and Tulane University, to small town colleges such as Fort Lewis College. 

To appeal to a diverse audience, The College Tour recently aired its first Spanish-language episode, where they visited ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix, Arizona. They featured 20 Latino/a students who come from different walks of life. The host for this episode, Lorena Segura, heard from adult learners, first-generation, DACA and high school dual enrollment students.

“You see that there are people with different skill levels, people that are honor students, people that school is a little bit harder for, but the common theme is they’re all doing it and they’re so proud that they have the courage to get out there and achieve their dreams,” Boylan said.

Participant Daniel Castaneda Martinez, who gave us a tour of Gateway Community College, a Maricopa Community College, shared his college experience. 

Majoring in computer science and Information Technology, he took us through his journey in getting into Gateway. 

“I came to Gateway through referrals. Luckily, I was able to find the Information Technology program, which I’m currently enrolled in, [and it] is very affordable,” Castaneda Martinez said during his segment in Spanish.

“I am very grateful that my advisor had the patience to explain the program to me, after much effort and with the support of my family.”

He does not take his college degree lightly. He understands how impactful it will be to the students coming from working-class households.

“I definitely know that I am in the right place, and I will dedicate my achievements to those who build, who clean houses, and mow the garden with a smile on their faces; I do it for them knowing how hard it is to earn the daily bread.”

The rest of the participants gave us insights into their journeys, which was inspirational. 

Behind the inception of ‘The College Tour’

In a recent interview with Alex Boylan, the Co-founder, Executive Producer, and main host of The College Tour, he told us what inspired him to create a series that is sure to help many families. 

“I’ve dedicated my life to telling stories and have been fortunate to film in over 60 countries around the world,” he told BELatina News. 

“It gives me great pride to now travel throughout America to tell the story of higher education through the lens of real students.”

Find out more about him and The College Tour below. (The interview has been slightly edited for clarity and brevity.)

Do you remember when you conceptualized this project? How has it changed since then? 

I can 100 percent remember when I conceptualized The College Tour.  A couple of years ago, my niece was given one trip to look at college campuses.  She decided to come out and stay with me in Los Angeles, where we spent a week exploring all the colleges around the city. During that week, I heard her ask her mom (my sister) if she could go to New York, Florida, and Texas to look at some other colleges. It pained me to watch my older sister explain that they did not have the finances to travel the country looking at campuses and that this would be her sole trip. From here, I started helping my niece navigate the college search online. I hate to say this, but it was a big challenge.  Where do you start? How do you figure out the vibe and culture of a campus? There is so much information out there, and each college tells its story in a different format. It was here where the lightbulb went off.  Higher education needs its own TV series. I wanted young people, like my niece, to be free to explore colleges across the country from the comfort of their homes or classroom without the financial burden of jumping on a plane. 

Has ‘The College Tour’ changed since you first created it? 

The College Tour hasn’t changed much since day one.  Of course, our team is a lot bigger now, and we have fine-tuned our production processes, but I am proud of the story we told in episode one, just as I am with episode 76 that we are filming right now. 

What has been one of your favorite moments of ‘The College Tour?’

My favorite moment of The College Tour is being on campus filming with the students. Everyone puts in so much work to make each episode awesome and authentic to that institution. And watching these incredible students be so brave to open up and tell their personal stories to the world is something that never gets old. 

What’s been the most challenging part of filming ‘The College Tour?’

Every ounce of The College Tour has been a blessing. Of course, nothing is built without challenges, but that’s all just part of the process. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the building of our production process. We work hand in hand with each college to build their authentic story. So, coming up with the production system where we stay true to the featured institution while keeping in line with our format has taken a lot of work and brain power from many people. 

Did the team face any different challenges while filming the first Spanish-language episode? 

All ‘firsts’ are challenging because it’s the first time you will run into things you may not have expected. Fortunately, we have people part of our team who are native Spanish speakers – so that was great. Overall, this episode went very smoothly, thanks to everyone coming together from our production team and the college. We are so proud of the episode, as we feature many first-generation college students and immigrants. So many students said they were intimidated by the college process, but all of them are now at college and thriving. Seeing them soar is beautiful, and we hope it inspires more people in the Latino community to feel connected to the concept of pursuing higher education.

Anything, in particular, you’d like to share with the BELatina News audience? 

First off, thank you for watching! We work to serve the next generation of students. We hope this series helps inspire you to further your education, learn about different majors, and find your passion and purpose to go on to live the life you aspire to have. We want everyone to realize that college is accessible, and dreams are accessible as well.