Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)

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ABOUT US

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) is a highly innovative college access program designed to significantly increase the number of students from low-income communities who stay in school and are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

GEAR UP differs from other college access programs by:

  • Raising the academic aspiration of entire cohorts- not just selected individuals- and cultivating the motivation, knowledge and skills needed to succeed along the pathway to college.
  • Serving children early in their academic careers, beginning in 7th grade.
  • Serving cohorts of students all the way through high school.
  • Enlisting the involvement of parents, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators- as well as community groups.

Because the GEAR UP cohort approach ensures that all students in particular grades are served, the program is a natural vehicle for systemic change.

AZ GEAR UP is a federal grant that has been awarded to NAU since 1999.

The design of AZ GEAR UP 2012-19 has three project components:

  1. In-School Partnerships, serving 4,000 students in 30 rural schools in six AZ counties;
  2. Middle Grade Initiative, impacting 200+ schools / 40,000+ students statewide; and
  3. Local and State Collaborations, advancing broader and shared aims with multiple entities.

Additionally, AZ GEAR UP 2012-19 embraces the importance of evaluation and research through an Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness, and is a member of the multi-state GEAR UP College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium.

History

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GEAR UP is a federally-funded college-access program started in 1999, authorized under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), now in 47 states. The purpose of GEAR UP is to significantly increase the number of students from low-income communities who graduate from high school prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

State GEAR UP Office

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Under construction.

Benefits of GEAR UP

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Improved Attendance

GEAR UP Site Directors examine why students miss class and then implement programs - both proactive and reactive - to encourage students to attend their classes. Creating interventions that address the reasons for absenteeism is the key to solving the problem.

Better Grades

Through tutoring, mentoring, improved attendance, academic enrichment activities, and the encouragement and inspiration they receive from their Site Directors, GEAR UP students do better in school, and their grades reflect this. Between the first and third years of the Program, the percentage of NAU-GEAR UP students getting grades of B or better in mathematics and language arts increased.

Higher Expectations

A fundamental GEAR UP premise is that children will live up to, or down to, the expectations that are held for them by others. GEAR UP sponsors training for site staff, faculty and administration, parents, and mentors on the Power of High Expectations. As a result, GEAR UP students regularly and consistently hear that they will graduate from high school, that they are capable of succeeding in college, and are made aware that they have the support they need to do so. Because parents and students alike are provided information about the cost of college and the availability of financial aid and scholarships, they learn that money does not have to be a barrier to post secondary education.

Higher Enrollment in College Prerequisite Courses

Through one-on-one academic counseling, GEAR UP Site Directors ensure that students are enrolling and succeeding in classes beyond those required for high school graduation, and which are required for college admission.

Increased Scores on Standardized Tests

Through tutoring, mentoring, improved attendance, academic enrichment activities, and the encouragement and inspiration they receive from their Site Directors, GEAR UP students can do better on standardized tests like the AIMS.

Enhanced Knowledge of the Value and Cost of College

GEAR UP-sponsored Financial Aid and College Preparation workshops, one-on-one counseling and numerous written communiqués to parents (in both English and Spanish) give parents and students a more realistic picture of how much college costs and how much financial aid is available. Assistance in finding and applying for scholarships provides concrete financial assistance. Job shadowing and career workshops let students experience first-hand the kinds of careers that will be available to them if they succeed in college.

Increased High School Graduation Rates

With improved attendance and grades, inspired and encouraged by mentors and their Site Directors, and motivated by the expectation of going to college and the possibility of a rewarding career, it is anticipated that the drop out rate among GEAR UP students will be lower than the drop out rate of comparable non-GEAR UP students.

Increased College Admission Rates

Because of the broad range of interventions and enrichment activities provided to GEAR UP students over five years, in 2012, NAU GEAR UP students graduated from high school at a rate of 83%; 72% verified college-enrollment in the fall.

Outcomes/Evidence of Success

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  • Class of 2006:
    • 82 percent graduation rate (67 percent for state)
    • 75 percent college-going rate* (31 percent for state)
  • Class of 2009
    • 95 percent graduation rate
    • 69 percent college-going rate*
  • Class of 2010
    • 94 percent graduation rate
    • 81 percent college-going rate*
  • Class of 2011
    • 82 percent graduation rate

*Each student’s actual attendance in college was verified in the fall of the year they graduated.

Contact Us

State GEAR UP Office
Northern Arizona University
15601 N. 28th Ave., #136
Phoenix, AZ 85053

Phone:
(602) 776-4616
Fax:
(602) 776-4619

Email:
gear.up@nau.edu