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Reach for the Stars Program
MAILED: July 20, 1998|
A pre-collegiate program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire gave 12 middle schools students from Wisconsin a preview of college life.
"Reach for the Stars" offers students a peek into collegiate life and encourages them to start thinking about a possible collegiate future, said Jesse Dixon, director of the program.
"Its purpose is to have middle school students, who perhaps under other circumstances might not consider college, to be interested in higher education and to have them see themselves as part of post-secondary education," Dixon said.
The program, in its 10th year at UW-Eau Claire, ended Sunday.
During the week, students took classes in science, English, computer skills, Internet research and toured the library, he said.
But keeping in mind the old "all work, no play" adage, there were fun activities planned, too.
An annual staff/student softball game was played Monday afternoon and during the week participants took a trip to a Minneapolis museum, Dixon said. In addition, recreational activities were planned each evening, following a long day of course work and learning.
The number of participants fluctuates yearly, but on average they try to maintain 20-25 students for each program, he said. Twenty-two students were slated to attend this year, but 10 were unable to participate.
Potential "Reach for the Stars" students are chosen by teachers and counselors throughout the state and recommended to UW-Eau Claire for final selection.
This year, about 30 students applied, Dixon said. Those who didn't participate this year did not either because there was a time conflict with another program or they didn't meet the minimum 2.5 GPA requirement.
Being in a group with other college-bound students helps each student to believe that college is a viable option, he said.
"My goal is for these students to think of themselves in a strong academic light," he said.
Jim Vance, director of the American Ethnic Coordinating office, said pre-collegiate programs such as "Reach for the Stars" make the transition between high school and college that much easier for students.
Students have the opportunity, beginning when they're in sixth grade, to attend three pre-collegiate programs a year for six years, Vance said. So by the time the students reach college level, they could've had several collegiate experiences.
"As much as we can expose them to the general life of a college student, we do that," he said.
And as far as recruitment of students of color goes, the pre-collegiate programs help a lot, he said.
"What I've developed a great appreciation for is students of color having this opportunity has allowed us to have a pipeline of students who've had various experiences with various universities before they even enter this university," Vance said. "That, I think, is the difference the experience."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 20, 1998