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ASU helps 8th-graders take college prep courses

March 27, 2008

Eighth-graders in three Phoenix elementary schools are focusing on college, thanks to a partnership with ASU that has introduced a college prep course to their classrooms this year.

They’re exploring careers, learning about scholarships and financial aid and discovering the kinds of high school classes that will prepare them for college. The elective courses at Magnet Traditional, Herrera and Kenilworth Elementary are tailored for their students’ needs, says Natalie Nailor, executive coordinator for Access ASU.

“Early planning can spark children’s interest in higher education, encourage them to set goals and develop plans to reach those goals,” Nailor says. “This is a great opportunity for the schools and for ASU. The principals have been very enthusiastic, and some teachers have given up prep time to teach the classes.”

Nailor helped develop the curriculum and co-taught some of the classes, bringing in ASU experts to talk to the students about admissions and financial aid, and ASU students to talk about their college experience. Magnet Traditional ordered specially designed workbooks from the College Board.

More than 80 students are taking the courses at the three schools. Students seem to enjoy the interaction with the university.

“The partnership with ASU gives us access to a lot of resources,” says Anthony Perkins, principal at Magnet Traditional, which has a student population that is 70 percent Hispanic. “I appreciate the help in exposing students to the college world.

“We believe more students do want to attend college because of it. The program has increased students’ awareness of what is needed, and helped them make a long-term commitment for a better future. We plan to continue this program forever.”

Eighth-graders from Magnet Traditional also attended ASU’s December graduation ceremonies, had lunch and toured the Tempe campus to get a taste of college life.

At Kenilworth, there are 22 students who are applying to competitive high school programs, including Brophy and Xavier College Preparatories, and the International Baccalaureate program at North High School. Nailor and teacher Judy Parker created lesson plans based around the schools’ placement tests and admissions processes, in addition to college and career planning.

Chris Helms of ASU Career Services came in to help the students with their interview preparation, and Irene Bradley of admissions helped them refine their personal statement drafts. Several students have since been admitted to the IB program, and others are awaiting admissions decisions at Brophy and Xavier.

“This shows the level of trust that schools have in ASU,” says Nailor, who also works with Phoenix Prep Academy and Lowell Elementary School. “We’re there establishing relationships with the principals, teachers and students. ASU resources and programs have helped facilitate all of these elective courses. It’s worked so well, I’m trying to make this replicable to other schools.”

Five other ASU coordinators work with additional school districts in Access ASU partnerships, to offer resources and meet specific needs.