Getting a leg up on college

Author says Upward Bound Program has prepared her for college

The author is a 17-year-old Chico High School senior and Upward Bound participant who is planning to attend San Jose State University.

Ever since I was a little girl, it was my dream to go to college. Neither of my parents made it very far in school, and I knew that if I wanted a better life I would have to get a degree. It wouldn’t be easy. I didn’t know anything about college or how I would pay, but I knew that I would accomplish it somehow.

I’m 17 years old and have lived in Chico my entire life. I’m going into my senior year at Chico High, and I have lived my whole life with one goal: to get good grades in high school so I can get into the college of my choice. Getting good grades isn’t as easy as most people think, and it seemed like a daunting task until I was introduced to the Upward Bound Program at Chico State.

Getting into the program included going through an arduous application process: seven pages to fill out, a teacher recommendation, and an essay. It took a long time, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made, and one that has changed my life.

Upward Bound, which has been active at Chico State for 48 years, is a federal program that helps low-income and/or first-generation potential college students reach their college dreams. The program provides year-round tutoring and a six-week summer program that gives students a taste of college life.

Since I joined Upward Bound at the end of my sophomore year, my grades have been significantly higher. And the summer program has allowed me to experience college life—including living on campus in the dorms—so that the transition from high school to higher education won’t be as difficult.

The days were exhausting: four hours of classes on subjects such as physics, college-prep, English and pre-calculus; three hours of work-study; and mandatory studying. All of those classes have helped prepare me for my senior year this fall.

The summer program ended last week. It wasn’t easy, but that’s what makes it worth it. The program has made me realize that I can accomplish anything in life, as long as I work hard enough. I am certain that with the help of Upward Bound, I will be able to make my college dreams a reality.