Upward Bound Program Helps Students Raise Scores

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SUMTER, SC (09/24/2018) Preparing for all of the aspects involved in a college education - such as entrance exams, grade-point averages and financial responsibility - can be overwhelming for students and parents.

Representatives of USC Sumter's new Upward Bound (UB) program at Manning High School officially started at the beginning of the summer, which covered all the above and then some.

"The Upward Bound program has gotten off to a fantastic start," said Lisa Rosdail, director for USC Sumter TRIO Programs. "We were able to hire qualified, caring staff members who really make student success a priority."

As a matter of fact, in just five weeks this past summer, the USC Sumter Upward Bound staff helped participants improve their ACT composite test scores by 2.5 points overall.

Sixty high school students who committed to be a part of Upward Bound descended on the USC Sumter campus at the beginning of the summer. The first order of business was to administer a pre-test for the ACT.

"Many of our students had never taken a standardized test before," Jodi Robbins, UB Administrative Assistant said.

The test was given as a gauge to see what students needed to learn over the summer and see what their strengths were. Although a little disappointed to find out their initial results, students were motivated to learn and improve.

"We spent five weeks tutoring students in English, math, reading and science skills, as well as tips on time management and process of elimination to help them with their tests," said Steve Evans, UB Program Coordinator.

By the end of the summer, students showed an increase in all areas of the test including 3.5 points in English, 2 points in math, 2.9 points in reading and 2 points in science. UB Staff are able to take the data collected and pass it on to teachers and administrators at the high school to help continue the learning process.

Even though test preparation is important, especially for first generation college students, it is not the only priority the Upward Bound staff is charged with.

"Our students benefit from a variety of services, including admission application fee waivers, an introduction to college classes, cultural trips, seminars and workshops," Evans said.

Upward Bound was developed as a result of the Economic Opportunity Act (1964) and is one of several federal funded TRIO programs currently funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. USC Sumter also offers the Opportunity Scholars Program, a student support services grant, to assist college students.

UB provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. There is no cost to apply for the program, but certain criteria must be met. The student must be a first-generation college graduate, income eligible and meet academic requirements. There are more than 960 Upward Bound Programs throughout the United States.

As a part of the five-week summer program, participants spent four days in the classroom and one day making college visits.

"We used a point system to earn a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City at the end of the summer," Robbins said.

"We visited local colleges and universities in South Carolina, but we also made visits to Seton Hall and Caldwell University," Evans said. "A lot of the students felt like attending an out-of-state college was impossible. But after this trip, they learned that there are opportunities to do just that and be able to afford it."

Upward Bound student Amard Graham said Upward Bound is an opportunity that a lot of kids need to take advantage of. "I feel as though it's there to help, but we also have fun. I hope to gain better test scores, especially on the ACT. Upward Bound has already made that happen."

During the academic year UB Academic Advisor Kyndall Locklear will be located at Manning High School. She advises students in course selection promoting graduation with rigorous courses of study.

"Being at the high school daily helps create personal relationships with our UB students and Manning High School staff," Locklear said.

Academic tutoring is provided to all UB students to increase their grade point-average in all core subject areas.

The UB staff helps students and parents focus on the next steps of college preparation. "Throughout the academic year we will help students and parents research scholarship opportunities, learn about the FASFA, continue preparing for standardized tests and make more college visits, just to name a few," Evans said.

As for parents like Glinda Brock, the program has already shown to be a "blessing" for her son Amarion Anderson.

"It is so nice to know that someone is there for my son, pushing him and encouraging him like I do at home," Brock said. "Everyone who can take advantage of this program, should. The staff is not only concerned for his future, they are helping him achieve his dream of going to college."

USC Sumter cares deeply about the success of students, all students. UB is designed to follow students from their freshman year of high school all the way through college.

Clarendon School District 2 and the staff at Manning High School, especially the guidance department, have been extremely supportive in helping establish the Upward Bound program.

"If we can continue showing progress like we had this summer, only good things will come from our program at Manning High School. We are all looking forward to what the future holds for these students," Evans said.