Napolitano, university leaders to visit high schools next month to increase UC applicant pool

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During the entire month of November, univerisity leaders meet with thousands of California high school students and their families in order to encourage them to pursue a UC education.

This effort is a part of the UC Office of the President’s program Achieve UC, which works to engage with high schools that have many eligible students but low application numbers to address misconceptions that prevent high-achieving students from applying to the UC system.

Achieve UC seeks to deconstruct myths that a UC education is unattainable and unaffordable for students from underprivileged backgrounds. While UCOP aims to inspire potential students when delivering its message, spokesperson Claire Doan said the events are also practical. The events address topics such as SAT test-taking, budgeting, applying for financial aid and attending college.

“We’re doing a dedicated push across the state so that students understand the attainability and affordability of the UC education,” Doan said.

Leaders who will be visiting various schools and community events throughout California include UC President Janet Napolitano, alumni and admissions officers. The visits will begin Nov. 1 with an event at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, California.

Principal of Deer Valley High School Kenneth Gardner explained that the school has an extremely diverse population and performs extremely well when applying to the university, citing a 57.5% acceptance rate among 80 applicants for fall 2015. He said, however, since most of its students come from underprivileged backgrounds, they don’t believe that they can afford college.

“Everything we do is helping our kids realize that going to college is attainable,” Gardner said. “By having them come out and reinforce what we’ve been doing this whole time gives us a shot in the arm.”

Director of the UC Berkeley Early Academic Outreach Program, or EAOP, Martin De Mucha Flores said this is EAOP’s second time partaking in Achieve UC events, and it will begin hosting fall as well as spring outreach events.

The reasoning behind this, according to De Mucha Flores, is that typically when UC representatives visit schools during the fall, they spend most of their time encouraging seniors to apply to the university. Now, come spring, the UC employees will begin to engage with sophomores and juniors to inform them about what a UC education is and what it means to be eligible for one.

De Mucha Flores said he believes that these efforts will create future applicants who wouldn’t otherwise have these tools to navigate the college application process.

“Among Black and brown students, underrepresented students, there’s an idea that (the university) is not a place for them,” De Mucha Flores said. “Where your family comes from dictates what your kind of access comes from. We want to address that.”

Contact Malini Ramaiyer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.