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UC leaders head back to high school

Naja Barker and classmates

Credit: Courtesy of UC Davis

Sacramento Charter High School student Naja Barker was eager to answer a question at an Achieve UC event last year with UC Davis.

Achieve UC high school visits

 

Nov. 16: UCLA at John Muir High School

Berkeley, San Diego and Santa Cruz will visit high schools in spring 2016.

University of California chancellors and other senior leaders will visit high schools across the state over the next few weeks to encourage California students to attend college.

The event, called Achieve UC, aims to deliver a simple message: College, and a UC education, are within reach.

Now in its fourth year, the effort targets schools with lower than average college-going rates, to encourage students to pursue higher education. The message that a UC degree is both attainable and affordable will reach about 6,500 students across California.

Students are encouraged to see themselves as college material by hearing from both UC leaders and former classmates who are now enrolled at UC campuses.

Concrete advice

But the event is more than an inspirational pep talk: College advisers also are on hand, offering practical help and workshops on the SAT, writing effective personal statements and budgeting for college. And for those considering community college, they offer guidance on how to transfer.

Seeing former classmates who have been accepted to UC and hearing encouragement from academic leaders can go a long way in changing how students view their own potential, said Yvette Gullatt, UC's vice provost for diversity and engagement.

So can learning about UC's strong financial aid program, which is structured to ensure that cost is never a barrier to attendance.

UC's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, for example, covers the full cost of tuition for California students with family incomes of $80,000 or less. Other aid can help offset the cost of books, rent and other living expenses.

"Students are so surprised when they hear that," Gullatt said. "They are even more surprised to learn that 57 percent of UC undergraduates pay no tuition."

Apply, and apply yourself

Officials also hope to deliver the message that students have the academic chops to get into UC, if they apply themselves: At each of the schools UC leaders will visit, at least half of all the students who applied to UC in recent years were accepted, Gullatt noted.

In the four years that the Achieve UC program has been underway, some participating schools have significantly boosted the number of students who pursue a UC education.

“These students have what it takes to succeed at the very best public university in the world," Gullatt said.  "We want to be sure they know that.”