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Future first-generation college students benefit from early exposure to college knowledge: understanding the different types of colleges and degrees; programs, majors and how they relate to future careers; and how to pay for college with savings, financial aid, and scholarships.
Many Oregon GEAR UP schools impart this information plus study skills, college visits and more during electives or regularly scheduled classes. For example, at Camas Valley Charter School, every 7th grader took part in a GEAR UP class that will included a wide variety of instruction and activities designed to prepare students for post-secondary education. "By the end of the year, 83% of the seventh grade GEAR UP students were able to identify classes and programs related to their career interests," says Wendy Roque, GEAR UP Coordinator. "The students had written assignments regarding their careers, classes, and which colleges would be a 'good fit' for them."
At South Umpqua High School, students can take GUTS classes - not anything related to anatomy but rather a class based on AVID principles called Gear Up To Success. Part of the class includes an emphasis on taking rigorous courses which led to 67% of students enrolling in an advanced class or Early College course - the biggest turnout for the Early College program yet!
Students in grades 7-12 in Port Orford used the Oregon Career Information System (CIS) to create education plans during the regular computer classes. The 7th graders focused on career, training and college exploration, with a culminating visit to Willamette University in the spring.
Sweet Home High School has a multi-grade curriculum called "Making Dream Happen" that is embedded into the school day. GEAR UP Coordinator Kristin Adams explains, "Starting at the 7th grade level we have a mandatory elective class titled: Is College for Me? 8th graders have the opportunity to follow that class with another elective titled: College IS for Me! We continue our curriculum throughout high school with a Freshman Fortitude Class twice a month in English classes, followed by a one semester GEAR UP for Success class in the sophomore year. Finally students work with ASPIRE mentors and College/Career Counselor for final preparations to making their dreams for life after high school a reality."