CSU, Chico News

Promising High School Students Get Taste of College During Summer Residential Program

Date: 06-18-2013

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Maria Moreno
Upward Bound

More than 200 regional high school students will call California State University, Chico home for the next six weeks as part of a program designed to get them into college.

Upward Bound, funded through federal grants, targets academically promising low-income and first-generation college students, giving them the information, tools and knowledge they need to attend a four-year university. Reaching 18 public high schools in six counties, the program is funded by the University’s longest-running grant and has been operating since 1966.

While the program runs year-round, a high point is the summer residential program at CSU, Chico. The students, ranging from high school freshmen to seniors, live in Shasta and Lassen halls, dine on campus and attend foundational classes in college preparatory subjects. In the afternoons, the students volunteer with a campus or community organization to gain professional skills and exposure to career options. They also receive one-on-one mentoring from local professionals at a career fair in July.

Because their families often have little experience in navigating the college application process, logistical skills like applying for financial aid, registering for classes and getting around a college campus are also honed during the summer program and throughout the year. Programs for families in their native languages are also offered to help support students on the college track.

Unlike other schools, which operate the program using one or sometimes two grants, the University is the recipient of four separate Upward Bound grants, renewable every five years through the U.S. Department of Education. The original 1966 grant for $560,000 and a second for $389,000 cover the basic program costs, while two additional grants secured recently for $250,000 each allow the program to reach students interested in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. With 233 participants, CSU, Chico is serving its largest cohort ever this year.

Ninety-three percent of Upward Bound alumni enter college directly after high school, and though it is not required, about half of participants enroll at CSU, Chico, said Maria Moreno, program director. Because they’ve already lived on campus and attended classes, the mystery of college life is removed and the transition made more natural. For bright students with little or no exposure to higher education and small chance of attending college otherwise, the experience can make all the difference.

“A lot of kids who are great college material get stuck when it comes to figuring out how to get on track to a university,” said Moreno, herself an alumna of the Upward Bound program and CSU, Chico. “We come alongside them and give them the resources they need to navigate the process and increase their chances for attending college. The desire is already there.”

Moreno added that many program alumni come back to work at Upward Bound during or after college in both volunteer and professional capacities.

The six-week summer residential program started Sunday and runs through July 24.