This past Thursday, May 30th, was a productive day on George Mason’s campus. In the morning I met with my mentor Grace Zamorano. We discussed my progress so far, my weekly goals, and a tour we are giving next week to a local middle school in the DC/Metro area. This tour is very exciting for both of us. It represents the beginning of the official development of a program in the Honors College dedicated to giving tours to middle school groups, as well as a partnership between the Honors College and the Early Identification Program (EIP). Below is a statement taken from the organization’s publication, EIP Magazine (Spring 2012):
Established in 1987, Early Identification Program (EIP) serves as the college preparatory program of George Mason University. With over 1,000 students who have graduated from the program, EIP provides access to educational resources for middle and high school students who will be the first in their families to attend a college or university. Currently, 600 enrolled students are actively pursuing higher education due to funding from our strategic corporate alliance, individual donors, and our partnership with public school systems in Northern Virginia. EIP inspires students to achieve their goal to attend and succeed at the higher education level. Our aim is to educate the whole student, providing year-round academic enrichment, personal and social development, civic engagement, and leadership training opportunities. EIP ensures that students are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and intellect to become lifelong learners, leaders, and responsible global citizens.
The Early Identification Program is an essential part of my research. They are one of many programs that have formed in response to a lack of resources within the United States public education system. Programs like EIP specialize in assisting a specific group of minority students. In the case of EIP, they focus on first-generation students. This means that if the students are accepted to and attend a college or university, they will be the first in their family to do so.
EIP is an example of a local, specialized college access program. There are other programs that strive to attain similar goals at the state and national level. Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) and Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) are two examples of large, non-governmental college access programs. On their “What is AVID” page, AVID describes their programming as follows:
AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance. The AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) accelerates student learning, uses research based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for systemic reform and change.
There are over 4,800 AVID sites in the United States and Australia. Contrasty, the HOPE scholarship is only available to students in the state of Georgia. HOPE is incentive based, rewarding a select number of students in Georgia with college scholarships.
Upward Bound and GEAR UP serve as two examples of federal programs intended to increase the number of at-risk students on track to attend an institution of higher education. Upward Bound specifically serves high school students from low-income families and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. Their website states the program’s goal is “increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education” (Upward Bound). The US department of Education’s program GEAR UP is focused on providing funds to “provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools.” They provide state and partnership grants, as well as scholarships for low-income students.
I have posted this overview as a reference. As I continue to research college access I will link back to this page in my other posts. My interest lies in why there is a demand for programs such as EIP, AVID, and Upward Bound. When I say “why” there is a need, I do not mean why are their at-risk students, but instead why is it that the education system does not have more in place to assist these youth. Is it that national programs like No Child Left Behind and Common Core, whose missions are to assist students, are actually hindering academic achievement? Or is it that our education system needs to be restructured to a more local level, allowing schools the flexibility to address the needs to their specific student population? Does this include putting more power in the hands of the teachers as opposed to a separate administration? I will continue to post about these and other topics, as well as the progress I have made in my research.
I will also be posting interviews, pictures, and experiences along the way. My hope is that this blog becomes a resources for anyone interested in the topic of education, specifically related to college access programs.