Upward Bound Math and Science Program Prepares High School Students for Success

This fall, 85 percent of the recent high school graduates who participated in El Camino College Compton Center’s Upward Bound Math and Science Program began their studies at four-year universities in southern California. All are first-generation college students who benefited from the program, which aims to improve college entry success rate for local graduating seniors. For most of these students, being accepted to a university was a distant goal with many obstacles, especially financial. Upward Bound provided them with the academic discipline, knowledge, and resources needed to successfully enter higher education.

For many years, Upward Bound has been opening up possibilities for its students and the program is gaining momentum at ECC Compton Center. “The Upward Bound Math and Science Program is specifically tailored to the average student, in 9th or 10th grade, who has the potential to improve academically in order to meet the admission requirements of a four-year college or university,” said Nelly Alvarado, ECC Compton Center Upward Bound program manager.

Established as part of the Department of Higher Education’s TRIO initiative, Upward Bound was created in an effort to remove barriers to access and success in post-secondary education. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance, and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, as well as students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education, and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education. It is free to all eligible participants.

“When I was in 10th grade, representatives from Compton Center’s Upward Bound came to my school to recruit students for the program,” said Reginald Johnson, a 2104 graduate of Dominguez High School. “I have liked computers my whole life, and I learned that the Upward Bound program would help me with math and science so I could improve academically and get accepted to a university. Not to mention all of the other resources and assistance the program provides.”

Johnson began his college career at California State University, Bakersfield as a computer science major. A wrestler in high school, he is also hoping to secure a place on the university’s wrestling team as a walk-on athlete. He credits his success and increased confidence to Compton Center’s Upward Bound Program advisors.

“I really didn’t have a social life before, and Upward Bound helped me talk to more people and network outside of the classroom,” said Reginald. “Also, I used to fall asleep in class and was not motivated with my studies. This program helped me develop more discipline.”

In addition to the focused curriculum, students gain exposure to industry professionals within the math and science fields, participate in field trips to cultural, academic and educational events, and make new friends with their peers who share similar interests. The course options include an 18-session Saturday Academy during the regular school year, and a six-week Summer Program.

A highlight of the program is spending finals week, during the six-week summer session, at a local four-year university so participants can get a hands-on perspective of college life. The students stay in the dorms, take their finals in lecture halls, and may use some of the university resources such as computer labs. The multi-year program provides academic, counseling and tutoring services, SAT/ACT test preparation, guest speakers, and field trips. Year round support is also provided to assist students through the entire university enrollment process.

“Upward Bound advisors at El Camino College Compton Center are so amazing with their resources and support,” said Johnson. “I would definitely recommend this program to any high school student, especially if they want to go to college but don’t think they can.”

For more information on ECC Compton Center’s Upward Bound Math and Science Program, contact Nelly Alvarado at 310-900-1600, Ext. 2205 or visit: http://www.compton.edu/studentservices/supportservices/trio/

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