Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

August 2010

Families Sample Colleges Through GEAR UP College Awareness


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A high school student and his father explore OU's engineering lab as part of GEAR UP's College Forum.

Incoming high school freshmen got a head start previewing colleges by attending the K20 Center’s GEAR UP summer programs. In the past month, the K20 Center has organized more than a dozen college immersion opportunities for students and their families.

One event is the GEAR UP College Forum. Created to expose students and their parents to different types of Oklahoma colleges, the event includes a three-day, two-night stay on a college campus, and allows students and their parents to learn more about the host colleges, admissions processes and college life. This marks the second year for the program.

This year, GEAR UP hosted two programs at Rogers State University in Claremore and an additional six at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. More than 60 students and their parents attended the forums.

While students participated in career and major exploration activities, parents gathered financial planning tips and resources from local bankers and financial aid officers.

“GEAR UP has blown my expectations,” said Vinita parent Charity Rose. “I thought we would sit and hear people speak, maybe take a tour of the campus. But we actually got to be hands-on and do college activities.”

While parents were planning for the future, the students chose a career path, investigated the necessary college degree, and then determined which high classes would set them on that path. The students finished the activity by creating multimedia blogs to display their research and present to their parents.

Vinita student Skylar Simmons, who wants to be crime scene investigator, said it was an eye-opening experience. “I am going to have to take a lot more math classes in high school than I thought,” said Simmons.

For many of the participating families, the college forum offered more than information; it also offered hope for their children to go to college.

“I didn’t go to college,” said Rose. “I finished high school and felt good just doing that. Now I have higher expectations for my children.”

“This made college a real place with real opportunities for my daughter’s future,” added Vanoss parent Kay Prince.

For more information about K20 Center GEAR UP program visit http://k20center.ou.edu/gearup.

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