August 3, 2012

Summer programs aim to encourage and prepare minorities to attend college

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Some high school students, especially underrepresented minorities and those from low-income, first-generation and migrant worker backgrounds, lack access to resources for college preparation. Here is a round-up of programs taking place this summer on the UW Seattle campus that help inspire high school students to pursue higher education and prepare them for college life.

‘Upward Bound’: Six-week academy for Seattle high school students

Erin Rowley, UW

High school students practice American Sign Language, one of the elective classes offered by the Upward Bound summer program for students from low-income families.

The desire to attend college isn’t necessarily a reality for all high school students, especially those from low-income backgrounds who may also be the first in their families to pursue higher education. But the UW program Upward Bound, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, seeks to change that mindset.

During the summer, Upward Bound hosts a six-week academy on the UW campus intended to give students a taste of college curriculum. The nearly 80 students from Seattle’s Franklin and Cleveland high schools participating this year attended  math, technology and language arts courses, and chose elective classes like ballroom dancing, American Sign Language, art, calligraphy and the appreciation of opera.

One of the most critical courses is the college prep class. Because most Upward Bound students do not have parents who can tell them what college is like, class discussions can get very personal.

“I’m always amazed at how open they are with each other,” said Upward Bound director Leny Valerio-Buford, who teaches the college prep class. “Sometimes we talk about the dysfunction at home, and you get a real sense that if it were not for this program, there is no way that child would be able to overcome the difficulty of thinking about college, let alone figuring out how to pay for it when their family can’t even afford to pay for electricity.”

Read more about this year’s Upward Bound program.

‘Shades of Purple’: Three-day conferences for high school seniors

Erin Rowley, UW

Students attending the “Shades of Purple” conference receive personal instruction on their college admission essays.

Hundreds of seniors attended three “Shades of Purple” conferences, offered at UW for the first time this summer to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue higher education. Most participants were from across the state, with some from Oregon, California, Illinois and Georgia.

They lived in the dorms and participated in writing and application workshops, cultural activities and panel discussions. They visited various campus departments, attended a mock college classroom session and toured the Husky athletic and IMA facilities.

“It is our intent that students will come out of the conference with an understanding of the UW and the resources available to them,” said Merissa Tatum, outreach and admissions counselor for the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity. “We hope they are more knowledgeable about our application process and have an outline or rough draft of their college admissions essay.”

Read more about the “Shades of Purple” conference and its participants.

‘Dare to Dream’: Week-long academy for migrant high school students

Earlier this summer, 52 migrant high school students from around the state came to UW for a week to learn more about careers and college life at the Dare to Dream Academy. Some came not knowing if they would finish high school.

It’s part of a federally-funded program, the College Assistance Migrant Program, intended to help college students from migrant or seasonal farm worker families.

Read more about Dare to Dream Academy, organized by the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.

Early Engineering Institute: Three-day workshop for Washington middle-school students

Early Engineering Institute participants in Red Square

Dawn Wiggin, UW

Participants in the first Early Engineering Institute that took place this week on the UW campus.

For the first time this year, the College of Engineering offered an on-campus experience for Washington state middle school students. Twenty-seven students spent two nights and three days this week living on campus, visiting research labs and taking math workshops to prepare them for a national curriculum in the fall. Students came from as far east as Yakima Valley and as far north as Mount Vernon.

“The program creates an opportunity to excite people about college at this young age,” said program manager Christian Johnson. “We’re hoping to convey the opportunity that is available and an example of what hard work can achieve.”

The institute is a miniature version of the College’s popular Math Academy, which hosted Washington juniors for four weeks in July.

The Early Engineering Institute is funded with a grant to the UW’s Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, as part of the U.S. Education Department’s GEAR UP initiative to increase the number of low-income students in postsecondary education.