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“Pep Up, GEAR UP” Week Kicks Off
September 26, 2022 – It’s “Pep Up, GEAR UP” Week in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and WS/FCS seventh graders are ready to start thinking harder about their futures.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP, is a college preparation program that follows middle school students throughout high school all the way to their first year of college. Students in GEAR UP cohorts come from Title I schools, communities whose students are identified as less likely to pursue higher education after high school. GEAR UP’s focus is on painting a realistic picture of what it’s like to choose, apply to, pay for, and attend a college so that those students will never have to worry about missing out on earning their degree because of a lack of information.
“We’re giving them an awareness about what college is like and preparing them for life after high school,” said GEAR UP Liaison Dr. Carol Montague-Davis.
Monday was all about introducing seventh graders to the concept of GEAR UP. After watching a video about the basics of the program, they were able to ask questions of GEAR UP representatives and talk about their early impressions of what they’d like to do in college. The students were excited to hear that there would be plenty of chances over the next few years to partake in GEAR UP activities for free. Both they and their parents are well aware of the large investment college takes, so having GEAR UP to guide them while they navigate things like financial aid applications is a huge help.
“If the student is motivated, that can motivate the parents as well,” said Family and Community Coordinator Michelle Sanabria. “It’s a two-way street.”
Students also participated in an activity called “Note to Self”, where they wrote a letter to themselves several years in the future. These letters weren’t collected or read – they’re just for the students to set a starting point for themselves as they begin thinking more seriously about the future. Most seventh graders don’t have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives, and that’s completely normal, but GEAR UP represents the perfect chance to start coming up with a direction.
“You have to have a direction,” said GEAR UP Coordinator Amy Kamarah-Payne. “Our job is to help you navigate and figure out that path.”
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