Because GEAR UP is a multi-year grant, our programming and events have changed from year to year. The pre-college preparation years emphasized getting students ready for college academically and financially. Now that college has arrived for many GEAR UP students, the programs take on a whole new twist: first-year success.
Years 1-6: High School
Tutoring and Homework Help
There’s no better way to prepare for college than to do well in high school. Our team of volunteers visited schools to help with class projects, study for exams, and power through math homework. During campus visits, we also made sure to point out learning centers and other resources that could help with future schoolwork.
Mentoring is a broad category, but it’s our favorite aspect of GEAR UP. Sometimes, we brought guest speakers in to visit classes—coaches talked about how to succeed as a student athlete, professors introduced an exciting major, and study abroad staff encouraged students to explore the world during college. We hosted after-school science clubs to get hands-on with really cool topics and meet members of the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers. Sometimes old-fashioned Q and A was the most beneficial, giving GEAR UP students a chance to talk with our mentors about college. Our mentors were most often asked questions like:
What do I do if I want to become a nurse?
Is having a roommate cool?
How difficult are college classes?
Our mentors were always eager to share their experiences and provide perspective.
There is no substitute for experience, which is why we loved doing campus visits with GEAR UP students. It helped everyone feel more comfortable with the idea of being a college student, plus it was a fun way to see classrooms, labs, facilities, and dining halls. All of our groups came to Michigan Tech several times, and their visits were always a blast. Because we aimed to expose students to different types of college and options after high school, we made an effort to partner with other institutions to bring students for visits (including Gogebic Community College, Finlandia University, and Northern Michigan University).
Building parent knowledge about financing college, how to apply, and what to expect are critical. That’s why we also hosted events for parents, sent out newsletters, and kept the email list active. Whatever questions and worries parents may have had, we addressed them in order to get the entire family involved in the college process.
Year 7: College
Now that the cohort has graduated and gone on to pursue their educations in all corners of the country, GEAR UP services look a little bit different. Students may be at another GEAR UP university somewhere else in the state, or they could be at an institution with different first-year success programs. For those who are now enrolled at Michigan Tech, our services look a bit like these.
Academic Success Workshops
We host periodic workshops for students to meet learning center coaches, pick up study tips, and find out what makes a successful college student. We partner with groups like the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success and our department partners to connect GEAR UP students with the resources they need during their first year.
Looking for a breather during midterms, finals, or those heavy project weeks? GEAR UP is excited to host occasional study breaks for students in the cohort. We will provide a quiet space, moral support, and snacks.
Leadership and Cultural Events
As the year progresses, GEAR UP students will also have opportunities to attend leadership events and cultural events such as the Social Justice Lecture Series. GEAR UP is proud to partner with other departments on campus to promote these programs.