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Program helps middle school students to think about college

Posted on Nov 29, 2012

A program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior is working to make higher education an accessible option to more middle school students in the Twin Ports.

Making the University Accessible is directed toward students and their parents of Superior Middle School and Ordean and Lincoln middle schools in Duluth. Funded by a grant from the University of Wisconsin System, the program is aimed at students of color and some low-income students whose parents have not attended college.

Work on the project began in 2011 with UW-Superior when UW-Superior staff working with school officials began making contact with the parents of eligible students.

The project's next step begins Dec. 3 with Making the University Accessible, a campus event that will introduce parents to college.

"We want to connect with parents to help them envision their children going to college," said Chip Beal, diversity coordinator and assistant professor of First Nations Studies at UW-Superior. "We want to help them understand how available college can be for their children, and to help them with anything relating to their students' retention in school and preparation for college."

During their visit to campus, UW-Superior staff from the Admissions Office, the Multicultural Affairs Office, the GEARS program and other offices will discuss topics such as financing a college education. A panel of university students will talk about their experiences in college.

The program's third phase will involve working directly with the middle school students to get them thinking about higher education.

"This phase helps train students to see how they can prepare themselves both emotionally and academically for college as they start high school," Beal said.

The existing GEARS program at UW-Superior will be an element of the third phase. GEARS is a program that works with Superior Middle School students to help them stay in school until graduating from high school and getting them to think about higher education.

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