UW-W helping more students get to college
The Office of Pre-College Programs at the university recently was honored with the Program Achievement Diversity Award from the State Council on Affirmative Action and the Office of State Employment Relations for its work in making college an attainable goal for minority and low-income students.
“That tells us that we’ve got a lot of potential as a campus for reaching out to the surrounding communities and we’ve had a lot of success,” said Richard McGregory, interim director of academic support services at UW-Whitewater.
The university offers three major programs to middle and high school students, many who come from low-income families and would be first-generation college students:
-- Upward Bound, a federally funded program that each year serves about 70 high school students from six target schools in Milwaukee and Racine. Students receive tutoring, attend monthly “field trips” with an academic, career and cultural focus and attend a six-week summer program in which they live on campus, take college-prep classes and gain work experience.
-- Education Talent Search, a federally funded program that each year serves about 700 middle and high school students from three target schools in Beloit and Milwaukee. Students receive many of the same benefits as they do in the Upward Bound program, except for the summer program.
-- Academic summer camps, funded in part by the state Department of Public Instruction, that each year serve more than 300 middle and high school students. Students can choose from about 10 one- or two-week camps that cover a range of interests. The camps enhance their exposure to college and allow them to build the skills they need to be successful in college.
UW-Whitewater has administered the programs for more than 10 years.
McGregory said many students who participate in the programs end up coming to UW-Whitewater for college.
“It helps with the recruiting because these students get a chance to really see Whitewater and get a feel for the campus … and that’s a lot easier to understand than a brochure,” he said. “It gets us in the conversation.”
McGregory said the programs not only promote diversity but also put more skilled people in “the pipeline” to college degrees and good-paying jobs.
“(The award) means a lot to us coming from the state because I think what we’re doing really fits in with the mission articulated by Gov. Doyle to start getting a more educated population in Wisconsin so we can reap the benefits down the road for an enhanced economy,” he said. “We’ve started to play a role in that.”
This is not the first time UW-Whitewater has been recognized by the state for its diversity efforts.
In 2008, the King/Chavez Scholars program received the Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award for its work with first-generation and multicultural students. In 2006, the McNair Scholars program received the same award for its preparation of first-generation and multicultural students for doctoral study and eventual careers as college professors.