GAINING EARLY AWARENESS AND READINESS FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS (GEAR UP)

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Dayton GEAR UP-Freshmen Orientation

Starting high school can be tough, but being armed with a little knowledge can help freshmen acclimate into high school. On October 8, the GEAR UP Program helped SHEO (Students Helping Each Other) sponsor an event held at the Running T Ranch. This event provided freshmen with information that will be valuable to them throughout high school and help them with any fear and trepidation. Five high school seniors came to share “Best Practices” and “Learned Lessons.” Here are some of the experiences the seniors talked about.

  • Freshmen year actually matters, so keep your grades up.
  • Avoid drama; tell people straight up that you want
  • nothing to do with it.
  • Stay clear of alcohol and drugs.
  • Start exploring your interests; take what you can handle and try lots of extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Keep a journal of all your awards and activities for your applications into college.
  • Strike a balance between work, sleep, and play.
  • Procrastination will get you nowhere.
  • Remember “You are the only one” accountable for your future.

YWCA Event Coordinator, Nancy Butler led team building activities to help the freshmen understand that entering high school is fun and serious. Structured activities were led by SHEO class advisor, Jason Noble. Jason’s activities led them outside into groups, forming new bonds by answering questions that pertained to school and life and then sharing their answers with each group. GEAR UP provided a booth with information on colleges and scholarships. Mayra and Claudia from GEAR UP WSU Tri-Cities spoke to the students about what GEAR UP can offer such as tutoring, ways to pay for college, and scholarships. The freshmen responded well and enjoyed the experience of Freshmen Orientation.

Fostering a College Going Culture in Walla Walla through Regional and National Partnerships

Walla Walla High School was excited to be selected as a Campaign Site for this year’s College Application Campaign; The College Application Campaign, operated through the Washington Student Achievement Council, is a national campaign serving tens of thousands of seniors across the United States. Wa-Hi is one of only a handful of schools from the Eastern Washington and the only school in our immediate area participating in this nation wide campaign. GEAR UP staff have been working the college admission representatives from across the northwest to increase the number of early applications that high school seniors file. During a typical application sessions high school seniors work in a computer lab as part of the English class and spend the full class period getting hands on help filing electronic applications to a college, university or tech program of their choice.

Some students arrived already prepared with the college(s) that they want to apply to and some students need a little more exploration time using online resources like Big Futures and WOIS to help them narrow down their choices and begin the application process. Regardless of where students find themselves in this spectrum, GEAR UP and the college admission representatives are on hand to provide them with resources they need to help them make the next step in their post secondary pathway. Some students already have completed their applications to the college(s) of their choice so they spent their time finding scholarships using additional online resources like The Washboard.

One rewarding moment for me during the first College Application session was seeing one of my students pull up a spreadsheet containing the important dates for colleges she was applying to. This was extremely refreshing and exciting since I had only met with this student a week ago. After working as a College Entrance Assistant for two months, I can honestly say I am seeing my efforts reflected in my students.

The first session kicked off October 23rd, and other sessions have been scheduled for November 5th, 10th, and 12th. This program and the partnerships with the Walla Walla High School English department, Washington Student Achievement Council, College Goal Washington and Northwest Colleges and Universities show the commitment our community has to developing a College and Career Readiness student body.

Luis Alba-Sanchez is a Whitman College graduate currently serving as a GEAR UP College Entrance Specialist working with WWHS Seniors.

Seniors explore their Personal Statements through classroom presentations

Classroom presentations for our whole cohort are one of many things I love about being a Student Achievement Specialist. GEAR UP has multiple whole cohort presentations over the course of the school year. Topics for seniors include personal statements, financial aid, budgeting your money, and transitioning to life after high school. Our October presentation with seniors focused on the Personal Statement, otherwise known as the College Entrance Essay. Students worked on rough drafts in class and learned about the importance of voice, style and revision. They also had time to read successful sample essays and discuss them in small groups. Though a single class period is all we have for this topic, our work does not end there.

Over the course of the year students will bring their personal statements to GEAR UP staff for feedback and editing. We have already worked with over forty students in the last few weeks. As the personal statement is such an important piece of the college and scholarship application process, it’s ideal to get the process started as early in the year as possible.

Rachel Hicks is a Student Achievement Specialist that works with Walla Walla High School Seniors.

College Campuses Expose Students to New Possibilities

The sky was still dark as students and parents pulled up in front of Walla Walla High School on a Friday and Saturday morning in October at 5:30AM. GEAR UP sponsored two campus visits in October with Washington State University’s Fall Preview Day on Saturday the 11th, and Central Washington University on Friday the 24th. Both campuses provided students who choose to attend with a unique experience and insight into the opportunities available at a State 4-year University.

WSU hosted a large event with an opportunity for our students to speak with representatives from the varying educational programs offered on campus through a fair. Students and families were given a speech about admissions and college life at WSU from one of the chancellors. Afterwards they were excused and broken up into preregistered sessions based on their fields of interest. They had a wide array of choices with business, healthcare, and culinary being a few areas. Parents attended separate sessions on information including financial options, scholarships, programs, and other important information regarding their students. The students received a lunch at a campus diner and then finished off with a tour of the Washington State University campus. Students came back excited about college opportunities and were asking great questions in regards to college planning even after a nearly 12 hour day by the time we returned to Walla Walla.

Central Washington was another early morning filled with half-awake students and parents on a bus for a couple of hours. However, once off of the bus we were moving either through a guided tour of the campus or the Anthropology Museum located on campus. At the museum they walked us through recent project to build a land bridge across the I-90 along the Snoqualmie Pass for Cascade wildlife to have safer access across the I-90. The campus tour was great, as well with the weather holding up nicely for us. From the tours we were able to explore the meal options at the Student Union and Recreation Center. Given the freedom to choose how to spend their money seemed to be a great AHA moment about growing up. They were forced to run a quick budget in their heads and plan on how much to spend and what to spend it on like cookies and coffee. When students finished with lunch they had the opportunity to explore the book store. We also heard an admissions and financial literacy presentation from a Central Washington University Recruiter. Students and families wrapped up the day asking questions of three current students attending the campus before we headed back onto the bus. Students again returned back to Walla Walla High School excited, especially a group of seniors who said before the trip they did not know much about the CWU before, but returned knowing it was where they wanted to attend college.

Trips like these provide students as well as their families the insight into the resources and opportunities available to not only get into, but be successful at a University. The student panels and college students helping out at the sessions were some of the most engaging conversations our high school students have experienced. Each student who attended one or both of these trips not only enjoyed the experience, but gained a better understanding of what college life would be like and the opportunities colleges can provide them.

River View High School Goes Big to Celebrate National GEAR UP Week

River View High School in Finley did an amazing job in celebrating National GEAR UP Week! National  GEAR UP Week was celebrated from September 22-26. There were so many activities organized that  ranged from a scavenger hunt to a carnival. The entire week was a complete success and many  students were very impressed. Students had a great time participating in the week’s festivities and they  surely let GEAR UP aware of their gratitude. 

The week started off with a scavenger hunt of 32 college logos. Students  had to go around the school and find at least 15 hidden college logos  then write the name and number that was on the logo. Each student was  provided with a worksheet where they were instructed to write their  findings. As the students finished their worksheets, GEAR UP entered  the students into a raffle and a winner was chosen for a prize. This  activity really got the students excited for the rest of the week and what it had to offer.

On Tuesday of National GEAR UP Week, GEAR UP organized a dream wall poster that students were encouraged to sign. The poster was a long piece of butcher paper, which was decorated by Ms. Garza, where students had the opportunity to write down their dreams. Students had the chance to express their life goals and future plans with GEAR UP Staff.

On Wednesday, GEAR UP did an amazing job of organizing a Carnival! This carnival consisted of lots of hard work and dedication that the GEAR UP Staff provided. The carnival really did have a great turn out, many students chose to stay and have some fun. Walking around and seeing all the students laugh and compete against their classmates was very exciting. There were all sorts of games that included the traditional ring toss but also a new one called, TEAR It Up. Students along with all the staff really had a great time.

Thursday consisted of a table set out at lunch where students were able to grab a college themed  coloring page, sit down and color. This activity was interactive for the students because many sat down  with the GEAR UP Staff to color and just converse during lunch. Additionally students were given a 20-  space bingo sheet to play teacher bingo. 

Finally, on Friday we ended the week with a nice surprise for the students here at River View High School. GEAR UP decorated five tables with college give-a-ways such as lanyards, backpacks, and  USBs. The five tables were decorated with Washington State University, University of Washington,  Oregon State, University of Oregon, and Boise State themed decorations along with the incentives that  were laid out for the students. Students were very excited to come to lunch and find gifts waiting for  them. 

National GEAR UP Week could not have been as successful as it was without the help from GEAR UP Staff, River View High School Staff, and parent volunteers. Also, thank you to all the donors that allowed GEAR UP to give prizes with each activity: Purple Peaches, Super Mex, Denny’s, Dutch Bros, and Carmike Cinema.  Everyone had a great time joining in on all the fun activities.

Soap Lake GEAR UP Seniors attend National College Fair

Soap Lake HS seniors attended the National College Fair in Spokane on Wednesday, November 5. Nearly every senior attended the fair which features college representatives from all over the country. GEAR UP seniors are now narrowing their college choices and they took advantage of the trip to talk to recruiters and admissions people to help with their decision.

Now is the time for our seniors to begin the application process. Most college application deadlines are after the first of the year but some have deadlines in December. GEAR UP encourages all seniors to get that early start on applications because things start moving really fast after the first of the year. Scholarship applications and FAFSA start early. Our seniors are starting early to avoid that last minute stress that procrastination brings!

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