UC leaders to high school students: College is attainable

Chancellors and other senior leaders from all 10 UC campuses will visit high schools across the state this fall to deliver the message that college — and a UC education — is within reach.

The event, called Achieve UC, aims to inspire students from low-income communities to see themselves as college material, and to pair the aspirational message with practical support that helps students realize their educational ambitions.

UC leaders will reach roughly 30,000 students from schools with lower than average college-going rates. College advisers also will be on hand to talk to students about applying to college, and the availability of scholarships and financial aid.

Students often are unaware of the range of resources designed to make college affordable for all Californians. UC's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, for instance, covers the full cost of tuition for students whose families earn $80,000 a year or less.

More than half of UC undergraduates who are California residents pay zero tuition thanks to the Blue and Gold Plan and other grants and scholarships.

“If there’s one message we want students to hear, it’s this: If you study hard, there’s a place for you at the University of California,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “A UC education isn’t only doable, it’s affordable.”

The effort, now in its third year, has helped increase the numbers of students applying to UC by as much as 30 percent at participating high schools.

“High achieving students in historically underserved communities often don’t realize they can afford or get into a four-year college, especially a top-tier university like UC,” said Yvette Gullatt, UC assistant vice provost and executive director of education partnerships.

Having UC leaders take the time to come to a high school and speak directly with the students sends a powerful message, Gullatt said. “It shows students that we want them here at UC, and we’re willing to provide resources and opportunities to help them get here.”

Students often are surprised to learn how many students who apply to UC from their school get in. In fact, at most of the schools officials plan to visit, more than half of those who applied to UC last year were accepted.

In addition to hearing from UC leaders, students at some schools will receive personalized evaluations of their transcripts, indicating specific courses they need to complete for admission to California’s public four-year colleges. They also will learn about paths for transferring to UC and the California State University system from community college, should they choose that route.

“It’s exciting to see students learn that something they thought was beyond their grasp is actually quite attainable,” Gullatt said. “These kids learn that they’re just one or two classes away from being UC- and CSU-eligible, and about the financial aid opportunities that are available, and you see their whole vision for their future change.”