HSU offers college prep to students through Upward Bound

By Beth Reed The Sentinel-Record
This article was published February 28, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

Henderson State University, through a federally funded grant, is working this year to prepare area high school and junior high students to succeed in college.

Upward Bound is a federal grant that serves students by preparing them for admission, and degree completion, at a four-year college. Henderson received the grant to serve 60 students in ninth through 12th grades from Lake Hamilton, Lakeside, Fountain Lake and Jessieville school districts.

This is the first year for the program, and the university was given an initial grant for a five-year period.

Students complete an application, and the have to be a low-income, first-generation college student, said Sheri Phillips, TRIO Upward Bound adviser for Henderson. Ideally, students have college potential, but need additional academic support.

Students in the program participate in tutoring, workshops, field trips and cultural activities. In the process, they prepare for the ACT, learn about financial aid and tour four-year colleges.

"As the adviser, I meet with students once a week to go over student success skills or connect them with tutoring," Phillips said. "I am another source of encouragement and accountability for them.

"Upward Bound also provides programming one Saturday a month that ranges from academic enrichment such as ACT prep, cultural enrichment trips, or college and industry tours."

Saturday sessions, she said, cover a variety of activities. This week, Phillips said students will be visiting the planetarium at Henderson as a cultural activity.

"During the month of June and part of July, we schedule two weeks of academic enrichment in Hot Springs, two weeks of a residential experience at Henderson State University, and a few weeks to take the students on college and industry trips," she said.

According to Phillips, Upward Bound pays for tutoring, all trips and events, and for two ACT exams.

"We also provide students with a monthly stipend as a way to give incentive toward their participation," she said.

To receive the stipend, students have to participate in at least four weekly meetings or tutoring sessions, and one of the Saturday events in order to get the full month's stipend, she said.

"I'd say probably 99 percent of why the program gives a stipend is to give them an incentive," Phillips said. "But also because we have that low-income category, it gives them the means to participate."

Weekly activities focus on student success and skills needed to be a successful college student.

"Next week we will do a note taking activity," Phillips said. "We'll deal with test anxiety and test taking skills."

Even though she meets with a group of students each week, Phillips said she does have individual learning plans for each student.

"I've had to meet with these students, or their parents or teachers to find out where their barriers are and where they are struggling," she said. "And then I have to address that, and do that every week to make sure we've addressed it."

Once students get into the program, Phillips said advisers plan to follow them through their college graduation.

"Once they get in, we follow them through high school," she said. "And in fact, once we get a group of graduates who have been in the program a full academic year prior, Upward Bound will pay for their first six hours of college in the Bridge Program. But we have to track these students in the program through college. That's part of our grant because, even though we are a college prep program we have to make sure they're graduating with a four-year degree."

This means advisers will intervene when students are in college to provide support to their former students.

Applications for the program are available to students in the four districts involved.

Local on 02/28/2018
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