Upward (and college) Bound High school students gain valuable academic, life experiences for future higher education endeavors. When Jeremy Kowalski first stepped into the Upward Bound program at Indiana State University his freshman year of high school, he described himself as shy and not knowing what to expect. Now as an incoming senior at Turkey Run High School, he is more talkative and has remained in the program since.
Kowalski, who plans to continue his studies after graduation at ISU, was one of 40 Wabash Valley high school students to participate in the summer phase of Upward Bound at ISU. Upward Bound, which has been in existence at ISU since 1967, is an academic enrichment program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The ISU Upward Bound program consists of 14 high schools in Clay, Greene, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, and Vigo counties. Currently, there are seven programs throughout Indiana.
To qualify for the program, students must in be grades 8 through 11, be a first-generation incoming college student, show a need to be motivated to succeed in college, and come from a low-income family as determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Upward Bound promotes the program through academic clubs, word of mouth, and personal recommendations from teachers and counselors. After a student graduates from high school, they may return to the program that summer for what is called their bridge year. Students receive room and board and may take up to six hours of class towards college credit at no cost. To enter a bridge year, students must continue their studies at ISU.
Upward Bound consists of two phases, a summer phase and an academic phase. The summer phase, which runs for six weeks, allows a student to live on campus in residence halls and participate in an intensive study program emphasizing in various areas of study. Students also receive the opportunity to meet with career counselors, participate in campus cultural events, visit museums, theaters, and historical sites, and other universities and colleges to learn about the opportunities they offer. This summer students received the opportunity to participate in an Olympiad on the campus of Purdue University. They competed against other Upward Bound programs in various athletic and academic events. The ISU Upward Bound program received the sportsmanship award because they rooted for all teams.
The academic phase of Upward Bound maintains and expands the exciting learning experiences of the summer phase throughout the academic year. Tutorial sessions are conducted twice monthly on Saturdays to help students in areas of study in which they have difficulties. The academic phase also provides students with assistance in completing college applications and financial aid forms. Northview High School sophomore CharMayne Jackson, like Kowalski, also didn't know what to expect when entering the Upward Bound program for the first time this summer. She was referred to the program by another student who had been involved with Upward Bound and has liked it ever since. "I've already recommended Upward Bound to 20 people." said Jackson.
Beth Gaither, assistant director of Upward Bound, said the program is so likable among students that it can boast a near 100 percent retention rate, with the exception of when a student must change schools. Students in the Upward Bound program find that they gain experiences far beyond the classroom. College life becomes more familiar to them.
"Being in Upward Bound has made me more familiar with the campus surroundings and has allowed me to interact with college students if I have any questions." said Kowalski.
Upward Bound students also connect with one another in a special way.
"Once you become an Upward Bound student, it is kind of like a lifetime commitment," said Gaither.
"The closing ceremonies are sad and very emotional because no one wants to go home."
Students often keep in contact with one another as well as with instructors and supervisors and even come back to serve as instructors. "We tend to be as close as family," said Gaither.