RFSD’s Pre-Collegiate Program takes students to next level | PostIndependent.com

RFSD’s Pre-Collegiate Program takes students to next level

For many high school students, college is a logical step in obtaining personal and professional goals. But for others, it’s a step into the unknown.Students from families familiar with the college entrance process, who “know the ropes,” often have an easy time during the pre-collegiate process. For others, however, college entrance is a completely unfamiliar activity. These students are typically the first in their families to enroll in an educational institutions beyond high school, making an attempt to improve social, economic and professional footing.For first-generation college students, the risk of dropping out or failing is greater because they typically come from low-income families, have lower degree aspirations, are often older than their peers, have a need to work longer hours off campus, take lighter academic loads due to lack of financial resources and/or time, and receive less support from family and friends for their enrollment. Consequently, this process becomes is a time of great upheaval. The Roaring Fork School District Pre-Collegiate Program is an academic enrichment and support program designed to guide educationally and economically disadvantaged middle school and high school students and their parents. Its goal is to help students successfully complete a secondary school career on a timely basis and choose a post-secondary institution with the necessary skills and academics to graduate and succeed. The program also guides parents on how to plan financially for college and how and where to apply for help. The program consists of three main components: mentor program, Saturday academies, and summer academic camp.The mentor program is a year-long series of biweekly meetings that take place during the school day. Mentors are typically professionals from the community who know the importance of giving their time to positively influence young lives. The curriculum for these meetings include life skills, keeping abreast of current events, setting and coordinating community service, ACT preparation, personal goal setting, field trips, and guest speakers.Saturday academies cover basic study skills, communication skill development, college entrance preparation and registration, and career exploration. This year it will include a required visit to the Aspen College Fair for juniors and seniors. These sessions will be held at one of the Colorado Mountain College campuses this year.The Summer Academic Camps consist of a one-week residential program hosted at CMC for freshmen and sophomores, and two weeks at one of the Colorado University campuses for juniors and seniors. During these weeks, students experience living on campus while being exposed to the rigor of academic courses. A program director, assistant director, administrative board and 18 volunteer mentors staff the Roaring Fork Pre-Collegiate Program. In its second phase, the program seeks to extend its services to 160 to 180 seventh- to 12th-grade students from the valley. So far, the program has been successful in the placement of its graduating seniors into higher education at a rate of 95 percent and higher.The program is a partnership between the Roaring Fork School District, the University of Colorado, CMC, and the Aspen Community Foundation. Its model is based on the CU Boulder program with more than 25 years of pre-collegiate program experience. The program is accepting volunteers for future mentors. For more information or to volunteer as a mentor or as a participant in the Saturday academies call Adriana Ayala at 384-5967 or send an e-mail to ayala@rfsd.k12.co.us.

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