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Grant Supports Students Considering College

BOONE–Convincing a student to consider their educational opportunities after high school can be daunting.

Barriers exist. College costs concern students and parents. The college application process may intimidate some students. Others may have limited access to information about college options or pre-college enrichment programs.

Appalachian State University has received a $60,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to help remove such barriers and improve access to higher education for students living in western North Carolina.

Through the grant, Appalachian has established the Appalachian Higher Education Access Network, part of the university’s College Awareness Program (CAP). The network is modeled after similar programs in Ohio and West Virginia.

A portion of the ARC grant will provide mini-grants, up to $8,500 each, to high schools in Allegany, Ashe, Cherokee, Graham and Swain counties. These counties are among the most distressed in the state in terms of unemployment and per capita income. Schools will use the funds to implement programs and activities similar to those adopted in Ohio and West Virginia to encourage students to aspire to and prepare for college or community college.

Schools may build on programs already in place that are designed to expose students to various education options, said CAP director Susan McCracken. “We want schools to really take stock of what they are doing, use the grants to enhance projects and activities already in place and fill in the gaps if programs don’t exist.”

Activities will include providing information about career planning and financial aid resources, conducting field trips to businesses and college campuses, bringing guest speakers to the schools and offering other resources to help students and parents make informed decisions about higher education options.

The grant also will cover travel expenses so teachers and counselors can visit model programs at other schools and learn how their system works.

In addition, the AHE network will create an on-line directory of pre-college opportunities, such as summer enrichment programs and camps, and serve as a clearinghouse for information on grants that high schools can apply for to help them better prepare students to think of education options beyond high school.

“So many students, who just need someone to believe in them, can get lost in the cracks,” McCracken said. “Our goal is to encourage students who haven’t thought about college to consider their higher education options, but everyone in the school will benefit from the project.”

Visit www.gocollege.appstate.edu more information.

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CONTACT: Susan McCracken, (828) 262-3066.