High School Students Use Program to Prepare for College

Students Participate in Upward Bound Program to Formulate College Plan

Fundamentals of Journalism, Reporters in Training

Many Alma High School students are benefiting from an educational program that provides college preparation and guidance with activities coordinated through a local college.

At least 15 students from AHS are participating in the federally funded program administered by the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, Upward Bound. The program is available to students who are from the first generation in their family to attend college, or that meet a particular income requirement.

According to information provided by Upward Bound, the purpose of the program is to increase participation in post-secondary education. Tutoring, counseling and activities are used to guide students as they move through high school toward the possibility of attending college after graduation.

Colleges across the nation can compete for funding to administer the program, according to the US Department of Education website. UAFS supervises the program that serves area high school students, including students from Alma.

Not all of the activities are educational in nature; there are opportunities to engage in community service or attend cultural events, said Jasmine Willis, a junior at AHS in her third year of Upward Bound.

Willis explained the specifics of the program, saying students meet one Saturday each month for a “Saturday Scholars” program, participate in advisory sessions each month, and are offered the opportunity for cultural enrichment at least once a semester.

Students receive a stipend for time spent participating; Willis said students can get $40 for attending a meeting plus the opportunity to be reimbursed for mileage and gasoline. Cultural events that a student may attend, like a play or a concert, are paid for through Upward Bound. A student is not expected to spend their own money to meet program requirements.

Upward Bound also offers summer activities for participating students. While still in high school, students commute from their home to UAFS daily for variety of classes and activities. Willis said students may take classes, engage in community service or college days, and are a part of “Monday, Fun Day” each week.

In addition, students that successfully complete program requirements are eligible for a summer trip each year. Willis said she has been to Texas and Nashville with Upward Bound.

AHS school counselor Manesseh Moore said there are multiple ways the program benefits students, but added that students need to understand that participating requires a commitment on their part.

“There are going to be academics involved. It’s not just about the fun,” Moore said. Although she added that the benefits definitely outweigh the time spent. “You get more out of it than what you put in,” Moore said.

Pullquote Photo

“There are going to be academics involved. It’s not just about the fun.” ”

— Manesseh Moore, AHS School Counselor

Moore said the part of Upward Bound she views as most beneficial is how it helps individually map out a college plan for its members.

Students from ninth through twelfth grades participate in the program. Activities are tailored to students based on their specific pre-college needs.

Willis said Upward Bound helps participants understand that college can be a reality.

“They make everyone feel like (college) is possible,” Willis said.

Chaarlee Hickman, a freshman at AHS who was just recently accepted into the Upward Bound program, said she is most looking forward to the exposure to cultural events that the program provides.