|July 19, 2005|
70 ninth and 10th graders enroll in Camp College weekend
Seventy ninth and 10th grade students from throughout New York State will come to Union College this Friday, July 22 for Camp College, a three-day weekend program that gives students the opportunity to experience a campus environment while also learning about the admissions process and financial aid programs.
Students who attend the camp are defined as "underserved," meaning they are first-generation college-bound, from lower economic backgrounds, and/or members of minority groups that are traditionally underrepresented at institutions of higher education.
"Camp College lets high school students experience college life while giving them access to adults who specialize in the college application and financial aid process," explains Susan Nesbitt Perez, vice president of outreach and financial aid for the Albany-based Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU). "Many begin the weekend not certain if college is a feasible choice, and leave understanding not only the many benefits of higher education, but also the many resources available, both financial and academic, to help make college a reality."
Participants are exposed to both the academic and social aspects of college life, attending classes led by college professors and eating and sleeping in Union's dining halls and dormitories.
Kelly Herrington, associate dean of admissions at Union and organizer of the camp, has witnessed firsthand the impact the weekend has on students. "There are so many high school students in the state who don't think college is an option for them. This program has a proven record of success in making college a reality for those who might not otherwise continue their education after high school."
The simulated college experience strives to demystify college life – from academics to social life. Students, chaperones and mentors attend classes, learn about admissions and financial aid, participate in parties and sports, eat college food, and sleep in dorm rooms.
Attendees are all New York State high school students nominated by GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) sites throughout the state, high schools, and community non-profits working with youth. According to one Camp College alumna, "Everything was great! I expected to meet a lot of energetic and smart people, and I did. The experience was wonderful."
The majority of funding for Camp College is provided by a federal grant awarded to the CICU by the Higher Education Services Corporation. CICU is a "Sector Partner" in the state's GEAR UP partnership and receives grant funds to provide services to the 20,000 students in the cohorts statewide. New York State Association of College Admissions Counselors (NYSACAC) developed the idea of Camp College and continues to provide a grant to help fund the program. A Federal GEAR UP grant awarded to CICU, as well as support from GE Energy, Citizen's Bank Foundation, Time Warner Cable, and Reality Check, makes it possible to offer the Camp College at no cost to participants.
Niagara University, in Western New York, is the site of a similar Camp College weekend July 29-31st.