Roaring Fork Precollegiate now partnering with DU; working with students on summer transition to college |

Roaring Fork Precollegiate now partnering with DU; working with students on summer transition to college

Past Roaring Fork Precollegiate students who are now in college, at left, speak during the recent holiday break with current high school students who are in the program.

A program of the Roaring Fork Schools to put students on track to be the first in their families to attend college is forging a new collegiate partnership.

The University of Denver becomes the first private institution the Roaring Fork Precollegiate Program formally works with to have first-generation students enter the admissions process and seek scholarship opportunities.

As a Pathway Partner, the arrangement also means the Precollegiate Program can work directly with DU to ensure students follow through with their plans to attend college, according to David Smith, the program’s executive director. 

It also means those students can continue to receive support along the way, similar to the mentoring they’ve had through middle school and high school, he said. 

The Roaring Fork Precollegiate Program was begun in 2007 with support from Colorado Mountain College and CU-Boulder to identify first-generation students in middle school who are motivated to pursue post-secondary studies. 

Students are paired with adult mentors who work with them all the way through high school in preparation for that potential. Since 2014, when CU awarded a three-year grant to grow the program, it has grown from 198 students during the 2013-14 school year to 390 students this year, according to Smith.

By the numbers: Roaring Fork Precollegiate


Number of students enrolled in Roaring Fork School District’s Precollegiate Program this year; up 6% from last school year.


Overall completion rate for first-generation college students nationally; among low-income students, that rate is 10.9%.


Percent of RF Precollegiate students who have gone on to college since the program’s inception in 2007, with a 73% college completion rate.


Total amount of first-year college gift aid/scholarships awarded to the 2019 Precollegiate class at their chosen schools.

Source: Roaring Fork Precollegiate Program Jan. 8 update to the RFSD School Board.

Precollegiate has already been working with CMC, CU-Boulder and Colorado State University to increase the matriculation rate as students graduate high school and prepare for college.

Smith explained that the summer between high school graduation and the start of college classes is sometimes where students become disengaged and, for whatever reason, don’t follow through in going on to college.

Through a CMC Colorado Opportunities Scholarship Initiative (COSI) grant, the program has hired a staff person who is now dedicated to helping students take that big step.

“The goal is to make sure the students who’ve gone through our program actually follow through and go to that first day of college,” Smith said. “It’s a way to build that direct bridge from high school to college.” 

The new arrangement with DU means Precollegiate students can have the fee waived to apply for admission and, if accepted, get a good look for scholarship opportunities. 

It’s the same model that has been in place with CU and CSU, which also have admission requirements, Smith said.

In addition, Precollegiate is exploring a similar arrangement with other institutions, including Colorado Mesa University, Colorado School of Mines and University of Northern Colorado.

The program essentially continues the same types of support and mentoring the student received in high school as they make their way through their college studies.

“It’s an opportunity to really impact a lot of students and give them the tools to succeed in college,” Smith said. “It can also ease that transition between that summer after high school and the first semester, so when obstacles get in the way they have some support to fall back on.”

Recently, past Precollegiate students who were on holiday break spoke with current students about their experiences and offered advice on how to stick with the program. 

“It’s a way to build the connection and give back to the valley, and have our current students see themselves in that,” Smith said.

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