Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Summer workshop helps prepare minority high school students for college

While nearly three out of every four white students who graduated from high schools nationwide in 2004 went on to college, just a little more than half of their black classmates joined them, according to statistics from the National Center for Education.

In an effort to close the college enrollment gap locally, DU’s Center for African American Policy (CAAP) brought 59 black high school students from throughout Colorado to campus Aug. 3–5 to participate in the center’s fourth annual Summer College Workshop.

Students were shown the “ins and outs” of college entrance exams, financial aid, admissions procedures and other skills necessary for getting into — and succeeding at — higher education.

“I learned a few things I didn’t know before,” said Brandon Bevill, a 16-year-old Grandview High School junior. “This is information I can use.”

Bevill hopes to enroll at the Colorado School of Mines. He says his mother gave him a not-so-gentle push by signing him up for the CAAP workshop. After furiously taking notes during a two-hour session with Morris Price of the Gill Foundation, Bevill said he’s glad he started exploring the college admissions process early. It will give him time to bring up his grades and build the kind of application that will make college admissions officials take notice.

“There is no easy way to college,” Price told the class of about 20 students. “But there is a way.”

Price told students to not only rely on good grades and college entrance exam scores. While they may have been scholastic superstars in high school, he said, now they will be competing with overachievers from across the country. Their personal stories, after-school activities or community service, he said, may be what sets them apart from other students with similar scholastic success.

Price, a former admission official at DU, went through a long checklist of tasks the students need to complete before they are accepted into college. The list includes meeting regularly with their high school counselor, taking the SAT or ACT, researching colleges, setting up campus visits, applying for scholarships, recruiting teachers for recommendation letters, writing the obligatory admission essay and preparing for admission interviews.

Students also got a chance to tour campus, talk with DU admission representatives and hear about the opportunities for black students at DU. CAAP officials said the annual program not only helps develop the skills needed to get into college; it also instills hope in students wanting to further their education.

“It certainly creates a sense of opportunity for these kids,” said Peter Groff (JD ’92), executive director of CAAP and president pro tem of the Colorado Senate. “They now can actually see themselves on a college campus.”

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