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High School Sophomores 'GEAR UP' to Become Future UK Students

by Jenny Wells

(June 24, 2014) — This week, 85 high school sophomores from across the Commonwealth will begin living and learning on the University of Kentucky campus for three weeks as part of the GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy@UK. In partnership with the Council on Postsecondary Education and the UK Division of Undergraduate Education, this college and career readiness initiative aims to develop a college transition path to UK for the students by showcasing the skills and attitudes needed to succeed at the state's premier research university.

High school sophomores sign up for the GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy@UK orientation on Sunday, June 22. Photo by Richard Greissman."Our highest priority is the success of our students," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "By partnering with the CPE on the GEAR UP Summer Academy, Kentucky high school students are exposed early to college life so they can better prepare for advanced coursework."

For UK, GEAR UP marks the first time a high school preparation program will be linked with the university's innovative general education programming, UK CORE.  During the three week period, UK faculty will manage the program through UK CORE student learning outcomes: all students are taking general studies courses that include research skills, information literacy, argumentative writing and public speaking, visual literacy, digital citizenship, video editing and web publishing. Laurie Henry, professor in the UK College of Education and director of the College Readiness P20 Innovation Lab, is managing the students' daily schedules that will reflect a typical UK student's schedule, as well as provide opportunities for interactions with UK faculty, staff and students.

All participating students will also have the opportunity to earn digital badges in elective courses that are modeled on undergraduate courses taught at UK, potentially leading toward a dual-credit program. Documenting student acheivement and college preparation through the use of digital badges marks another first for the university.  

"Thanks to support from UK colleges and student success areas, we are able to offer an extremely innovative and diverse experience for the GEAR UP students," said Ben Withers, associate provost for undergraduate education. "This is the result of several years of intense discussions on campus about college preparation, and the innovative link of the summer courses to UK CORE will allow these students a better understanding of what college is like and, most importantly, demonstrate that they can succeed when they come to UK or go to the college of their choice."

The students attending the GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy were recommended and supported by their principals, teachers and guidance counselors for having strong potential to succeed in college with the necessary preparation.

About GEAR UP Kentucky

The GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy program was created to help students develop the skills needed for college and career success and create the opportunity to visualize themselves as a future college student. The program is provided at no cost for the students and their families, and includes the following three components:

  • General Studies Core Courses: Courses focused on building research, reading, writing, and communication skills.
  • Focus Areas: Courses that give students an in-depth, hands-on experience in a particular field including agriculture, engineering, science, fine arts, global studies, business and economics, etc.
  • Cafe College: Interactive evening sessions in the residence hall that focus on the everyday life of the college student.

For more information about the program, click here.