D-2 partnership gives students a head start

Feb. 22, 2010

Kay Wynarsky
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UCCS is teaming up with local high schools in District Two to create a new initiative intended to help prepare students to start thinking about college realistically at a younger age.

Developed through the Chancellor’s Leadership Class (CLC), the program will give students a head start on college visits by giving them tours of the UCCS campus and discussing the application process, as well as providing some advice on how to succeed in college. The visit to UCCS is also intended to give the students an introduction to the school as a possibility for their higher education.

Robert Wonnett, formerVice Chancellor for Student Success, said he and those in charge of initiating the partnership chose District Two because they wanted to pick a district that was not often selected to participate in such initiatives. “D-11 and D-12 are closer and usually selected for these kinds of things. But we wanted to reach out to districts that aren’t typically chosen. We want to give potential first generation college students an idea of school.”

Wonnett  hopes the program “will do service by teaching students leadership,” he said. “Our mission is to educate southern Colorado.”

Wonnett is working with teachers to create workshops between groups, such as the 21st Century Program, an excelled educational program students and CLC scholars volunteer for  in the Springs.

Last Thursday, Harrison High School’s 21st Century Program students came to campus to learn not only about UCCS, but about the steps necessary to enter college as well.

A primary objective of the program is to give kids who want to get into college but may not  have the funds to do so, an understanding that higher education is still a possibility.

A ninth grader in the program, Derek Davis, said that he is hoping to  attend either UCCS or the Air Force Academy. But with his mom currently out of work, he, like many other students, worries about how to pay for higher education. During their visit the students were spoken to about financial aid, grants, loans, working on campus and scholarships as their most promising options for assistance in paying for school. 

Before taking a tour of the campus, students were given information on UCCS as well as information on support and help to be successful in college. MOSAIC Director Anthony Cordova spoke to the Harrison students about his own school experience and why it was so essential for him to attend college in order to move up in the job world. They were also told about the differences between high school and college; how they will have independence and will need to be responsible for their own actions.

To make sure they were considering higher education seriously, students were asked how they are preparing for college. One replied, “We are starting to worry about our GPA now.”