Pre-College Outreach Programs strongly supports the divisional and institutional priorities of the University of Arkansas. Efforts to create innovative programs supporting students in their desire for higher education have again resulted in program expansion to low-income, first-generation, and diverse student populations historically underrepresented in higher education. All three Talent Search programs achieved success in exceeding all standardized grant objectives which include the following: 1.) That each program will serve a required minimum number of students to include at least 2/3 that qualify as low-income AND first-generation; 2.) That 95% of non-senior secondary school participants served during each budget period will be promoted to the next grade level; 3.) That 90% of high school seniors will graduate from secondary school or receive a certificate of high school equivalency during each budget period; 4.) That 90% of “college ready” (senior) project participants will apply for financial aid during each budget period; 5.) That 85% of “college ready” project participants will apply for secondary school admission during each budget period; and, 6.) That 80% of “college ready” participants will enroll in a program of postsecondary education during each budget period. The successful achievements of program objectives for the TRIO Talent Search programs were documented in annual performance reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, November 2009.
At the institutional level, Pre-College Outreach continues to make progress in supporting Division goals. Efforts are ongoing to assess and improve program services to increase success and overall student impact as they enter college. As the freshman retention rate of 92.5% achieved by Talent Search participants exceeded the university’s retention rate this year, the six-year graduation rate fell below institutional levels at 47.5%. While the retention rate for the Talent Search programs is promising, the need to ensue support for graduation is evident. Efforts to bridge our program alumni to Student Support Services for ongoing TRIO support are underway for fall 2010. It is our desire to impact institutional goals with the success and momentum attained with retention by accomplishing the same with competitive six-year graduation rates. We also watch with promise the impact the new state lottery scholarship will have in supporting our low-income students, financially, to retain and graduate with college degrees.
Residential Pre-College Programs
Pre-College Programs began the year with a departmental restructure that yielded Residential Pre-College Programs, comprising three Upward Bound programs, Veterans Upward Bound, and several partnership programs that previously were housed within Gifted & Talented Scholars.
Gifted & Talented Scholars lost critical funding last fall and in January closed its offices. The program director moved to direct the classic Upward Bound program, and the program coordinator transitioned to an academic counselor position with REAL Upward Bound. The remaining partnership programs, unaffected by the loss of funding, continued to be led by the former program director (whose salary was offset 10 percent by the remaining GT Scholars budget to avoid conflicts with federal TRIO regulations). Ninety Kauffman Scholars, Inc. students visited campus for a three-day academic residential experience, and a group of sophomores from KIPP Delta Preparatory School in West Helena, Ark., attended a one-week program. New partnerships were formed with the Office of Diversity.
Veterans Upward Bound began a CLEP test preparation course designed to help veterans earn college credits efficiently and inexpensively and more quickly progress toward earning bachelor’s degrees. This year, 36 Veterans Upward Bound students entered college, with seven enrolling at the University of Arkansas. The Arkansas Boots to Books Network was created in May 2010 by a core group of veteran-supporters on campus, including the Veterans Upward Bound staff, and is administered by JP Lopez, Veterans Upward Bound program advisor. The network’s mission is to connect faculty and staff from Arkansas institutions of higher education with other individuals from organizations and agencies who work with or are interested in assisting student veterans in their transition from soldier to student. Veterans Upward Bound continues to work closely with the Veterans Resource Center, with each program referring students to the other. Veterans Upward Bound director, Carol Altom, continues to serve on the Governor’s Yellow Ribbon Task Force committee as Chancellor Gearhart’s representative.
The Upward Bound programs transitioned to a spring recruitment strategy that introduces new students to the program during their first summer term. The three Upward Bound programs served 186 students, including 28 Bridge students who took up to six credit hours during the University’s second summer session. Of 45 students graduating from our Upward Bound programs this year, 15 will be attending the UA this fall.