More than 200 seventh- through 10th-grade students
headed off to college today to learn more about the importance of
planning for college as well as the rewards of a teaching career.
The campus visit is sponsored by the comprehensive college preparation
program Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate
Programs (GEAR UP), the College of Education at the University of
Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) and a grant from the Oklahoma
State Regents for Higher Education Minority Teacher Recruitment
program. Participating students from Boone-Apache, Comanche, Indiahoma,
Marietta and Ryan schools spent the day learning about financial
aid, academic requirements and admission standards, as well as touring
the USAO campus.
GEAR UP is a federal program designed to better prepare students for college. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma a five-year grant totaling $20.5 million to implement GEAR UP activities across the state, including scholarships, college preparation projects and awareness programs for students and parents.
The campus visit was designed to help students gain an early awareness of college preparation as well as to inform them of the academic opportunities available through GEAR UP and other programs.
“We want to encourage students to start thinking early about college so they can better prepare for the academic demands of college and take advantage of financial aid opportunities,” said Chancellor Hans Brisch. “We were able today, through the visit to USAO, to give these students an understanding of college they might not get otherwise.”
The event began in Troutt Hall Auditorium where students heard from several education leaders about the importance of a college education, options on financial aid and the need to take core courses in order to be academically prepared.
Morning speakers included: Dr. Jeanne Mather, professor, College of Education, USAO; Tim Reynolds, Chickasha businessman; Jolynn Horn, regional coordinator, Oklahoma GEAR UP, OSRHE; and Nancy Moats, financial aid official, USAO.
Dr. Jerry Bread, outreach coordinator of Native American Studies, University of Oklahoma, shared his experiences as a first-generation college student from western Oklahoma. Over lunch, Beard told the students his “Cultural Perspective of Success.” He encouraged students to examine their own perceptions of success as well as those of their peers, teachers, parents and society.
“Many middle school students feel as if college is foreign territory and not part of their world. In addition, they think college is too far in the future to be concerned about now,” said Brisch. “We want Oklahoma students to have every opportunity to attend college when the time comes. That’s why we arrange these campus visits in the middle school years. It helps our young people to understand the importance of planning early for college and helps them become familiar with a college campus at an early age.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.