In conjunction with Oregon Private College Week, Oregon GEAR UP and The Alliance hosted a one-week summer program for rural, low-income students to explore educational opportunities available at private, nonprofit colleges across the state. 14 rising seniors from Taft High School (Lincoln City), North Douglas High School (Drain), La Pine High School, Elkton Charter School, and South Umpqua High School (Myrtle Creek) spent a week visiting seven private, nonprofit colleges in Oregon.

Thank you, campuses!Students toured campuses and participated in workshops on completing college applications, writing essays, building a resume and more. 93% of students felt more positively about private colleges after the experience and 100% would recommend the camp to their friends. “I never would have thought I could afford private college. I never would have thought they would have this many scholarships. I never would have thought that people would be so welcoming,” said Faith Wood, a student who recently completed her junior year at Taft High School in Lincoln City. “It’s really exciting to see that it’s something that I could have the opportunity to do. Now I’m so interested in all of these different private colleges – there are at least three that I will apply to now.”

The idea for the camp sprang from necessity: low-income students are less likely to attend higher education, less likely to attend a four-year college, and less-likely to attend a private college than their higher-income peers. Yet, a recent study by The Council of Independent Colleges found that students from first-generation and low-income backgrounds routinely experience better outcomes if they attend a smaller private college. “We really wanted to dispel the myth for our schools and students that private colleges are only for affluent students,” said Adrienne Enriquez, a program manager with Oregon GEAR UP.

“Private College Week Camp helps students ‘find the right fit’ and explore postsecondary options at many different institutions.”

The Oregon GEAR UP program – which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program – is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college. The Alliance represents and serves private, nonprofit colleges and universities across the state. The Private College Week Camp is the first of what will be a series of collaborations between Oregon GEAR UP and The Alliance.

“Partnering with organizations such as Oregon GEAR UP allows us to reach promising young people and make an introduction to our member colleges, who offer a supportive, personalized environment where students from all backgrounds can thrive,” said Brent Wilder, Vice President of The Alliance. “This partnership advances an Alliance objective to ensure that all young people have equal opportunity to access a quality and personalized education experience at one of Oregon’s leading private, nonprofit colleges and graduate with the skills to immediately impact the state’s workforce needs.”

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