UW News

August 8, 2000

Students ‘GEAR UP’ for college through summer institute at UW

News and Information

About 1,000 seventh- through 12th-grade students will spend a week on the University of Washington campus Aug. 14-18 as part of an innovative program to increase the number of low-income students who go to college. Students from Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Elma, Inchelium, Lakewood, Renton, Pasco, Tacoma, Spokane, Wapato and Yakima will be attending the summer institute.

The summer institute is a key component of GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), a federally-funded initiative that is reaching out to all corners of the state, creating partnerships among higher education, K-12 schools, state government, community organizations and the business community. The state of Washington has received a five-year, $15.6 million grant under the program, which is jointly administered by the office of the governor, the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the UW. There also are four local GEAR UP partnerships serving students in the state.

The students coming to the UW will stay in residence halls and attend courses designed to introduce them to a college atmosphere. Students will select a “major” before coming to campus and will enroll in a series of courses that respond to their interests. They will attend a college fair and have an opportunity to tour other postsecondary schools in the Seattle area. Students also will participate in job shadowing on the UW campus and at local businesses. The week’s events will end with “graduation” ceremonies at noon at Meany Hall, at which UW President Richard L. McCormick will preside.

“The GEAR UP summer institute can help create real, lasting change in the
lives of those it touches,” said Gov. Gary Locke. “By exposing students to the college experience, we’re building their hopes and dreams and showing them the opportunities that await them with a college education.”

“GEAR UP provides important opportunities to inspire young people and show them that a college education is achievable,” said McCormick. “Whether it happens at a place like the University of Washington or at another college or university, the important message is ‘you belong here and there is a clear path for you to get here.'”

The national GEAR UP program was created to address the barriers that students from low-income families face in preparing for higher education. Nationally, just 47 percent of low-income high school students enroll in college or a trade school, compared with 82 percent from high-income families. Moreover, 22 percent of college-qualified high school students from low-income families don’t pursue higher education–compared with just 4 percent from high-income families, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Reaching young people early with the message that college is possible is essential for change, according to HECB Executive Director Marc Gaspard. “We want students to understand that, if they plan ahead and work hard, they can go to college.”

The approach of GEAR UP is to reach students early beginning in the seventh grade – and to make sure that they have access to the right preparatory courses for college. The program emphasizes mentoring throughout the school years, educational transformation in K-12 schools and college scholarships. The program pairs public schools, which have a high proportion of low-income students, with universities and community colleges, as well as community organizations and local businesses.


GEAR UP in Washington State


Low-income, disadvantaged students are less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. Many mistakenly believe that college is too expensive or otherwise out of their reach. Others want to go to college but don’t know how to navigate the higher education system. With one counselor for every 509 students, schools often can’t provide the one-on-one guidance that many of these students need.

Studies show that early intervention works. Students from low-income families who receive extra financial, academic, and social support are more likely to stay in school and go on to college.

In Washington State, 87 percent of those who participated in a five-year National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) program stayed in high school. About two-thirds of the students who began the program in 10th grade went on to college.

Program Overview

Through a $15.6 million, five-year federal grant, the Washington State GEAR UP project is helping more students from disadvantaged backgrounds go on to college. The Higher Education Coordinating Board, the University of Washington and the Office of the Governor are jointly administering the state project.

Direct Service to Students
Project staff offer the academic, social and financial support students need to pursue higher education. They provide academic preparation and tutoring, career exploration and information about college. Communities contribute time, space, and thousands of volunteer hours annually to help ensure the students’ success.

Students come from low-income communities around the state with high numbers of at-risk youth. They generally are the first in their families to go to college.

The state program currently serves students in Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Elma, Inchelium, Spokane, Tacoma and Wapato and will expand later this year to serve students in Seattle, Taholah, Yakima and Quincy. Four local GEAR UP partner-ship sites serve students living in Renton, Pierce County, the Lower Yakima Valley and the Mid-Columbia Basin area.

Building Partnerships
To broaden its reach and strengthen community/education partnerships, the GEAR UP program also is overseeing the following early intervention initiatives:

  • ? Hosting annual summer institutes at the University of Washington and field trips to other campuses to expose students to the college experience.

  • ? Creating publications about the importance of higher education, college planning and the availability of financial aid, and distributing them
    to participating students in grades 7
    through 12 and their families.

  • ? Improving K-12 teaching and learning to help students develop the academic skills they will need for admission to and success in college.

  • ? Offering institutes, seminars and train-ing materials to help teachers improve classroom strategies, and infuse curricula with positive messages about higher education.

    <li.? Providing year-round support to GEAR UP students through the UW Outreach Partners. UW graduate and under-graduate students will serve as mentors to GEAR UP students statewide.

The UW Summer Institute

More than 1,000 middle and high school students from Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Elma, Inchelium, Lakewood, Renton, Pasco, Tacoma, Spokane, Wapato and Yakima will participate in the first Summer Institute at the University of Washington, August 14-18.

The 800 middle and 200 high school students will choose a major, attend classes, and sleep in the dorms. In addition, they will tour area colleges, shadow
professionals, and discuss career paths with leaders in business, government and the community.

UW Classes – Daily at various times.
Students will attend classes taught by UW professors on topics ranging from “How Airplanes Fly” to “DNA in You, in Court, in Medicine, and in the News.”

Campus Tours – August 16, 2000
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Students will tour area college campuses, including Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and Shoreline Community College.

Job Shadowing – August 17, 2000
9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Students will shadow professionals, including UW President Richard McCormick.

Career Roundtables – August 17, 2000 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Puget Sound area professionals will talk informally with small groups of students about their career experi