|GEAR UP prepares Pomona Unified School District students for college.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. Students join the program in the seventh grade and stay through high school, receiving guidance on California A-G requirements as well as tutoring, academic advising, financial aid counseling in addition to campus tours and field trips.
"GEAR UP introduces both students and parents to the college experience and lets them know that a college degree is attainable," said program director Pamela La Rose. "The students on this tour are members of the first cohort to go through the program, and all 100 are UC-eligible. The tour will give them a chance to see each campus, meet student reps and see campus housing, and get a real feel for college life as they enter their senior years in high school."
LaRose said the tour will mark the first time in any UC-sponsored GEAR UP program that students have had the opportunity to visit all of the undergraduate campuses.
"Our students have done tours before, but never all nine campuses in one trip," she said, adding that the trip is at no cost to the students and parents. "Our counterparts at other universities that participate in GEAR UP partnerships have been have been surprised to learn that we were able to put this trip together."
The trip is free for the students and their families, with 100% of the funds coming from the U.S. Department of Education. Those who were selected to participate had to demonstrate their potential to be strong applicants to the UC system, write an essay addressing their plans after high school, and get a letter of recommendation from a teacher or administrator that showcased their behavior, how they interact with peers, and what made them a stand-out student on campus.
The students and their chaperones are scheduled to leave the Pomona Education Center on Monday, July 22 at 8 a.m. in two chartered buses. They will travel to UC Santa Cruz, which will be their home base as they make day-trip visits to the Berkeley, Davis and Merced campuses. On July 28 they will then return to Southern California, staying at UCLA while taking trips to Irvine, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Riverside campuses.
There will also be several educational stops along the way, including the State Capitol on July 23, the Golden Gate Bridge on July 25, and the California Science Center on July 31.
Students won't just be tourists - they'll be using iPads provided by the Pomona Unified School District to chronicle the trip through photos and stories and bringing back information about each school so their peers can compare what each of the UC campuses has to offer.
The students are all members of the first GEAR UP cohort, who started the grant-funded program in the seventh grade. All of the students are UC-eligible, thanks in part to the program.
"If it weren't for the program, it's likely that just a few of these students would now be eligible to attend a University of California school," La Rose said. "In fact, there are more than 100 students in the GEAR UP program who are UC-eligible, but we only had space for 100 on the trip."