Inspiring students to dream of higher ed — and then to apply

The college application process can seem daunting — even out-of-reach — for students, especially when they’re looking at top-tier schools like UC Berkeley. But Achieve UC is working to bring the campus into focus, giving students steps to follow to get on, and stay on, the college track.

students at Sather Gate

(UC Berkeley photo by Steve McConnell)

The program, now in its fifth year, is a systemwide initiative that gives students from underrepresented communities around the state the tools they need — and a healthy dose of inspiration — to better prepare for higher education.

Senior leaders from all 10 UC campuses will be visiting high schools in underserved areas to share resources and give advice on how to gain the experience they need to become competitive college applicants.

“Having UC leaders come out and say, ‘We want you. We want you on our campuses, this is what you have to do to get there, and this is how we can support you’ is a hugely powerful message,” says Miya Hayes, deputy director at the Center for Educational Partnerships.

This year, Yvette Gullatt, vice provost and chief outreach officer of Diversity and Engagement at UC’s Office of the President, will be the key speaker on behalf of UC Berkeley, visiting classrooms this week, at Kennedy High School in Richmond and next week, at Skyline High School in Oakland.

Gullatt, who earned her bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in English at Berkeley, will discuss her own educational journey, describe financial aid opportunities, field questions from students and highlight how to build an educational portfolio to join the ranks of ambitious college-goers.

“High-achieving students in historically underserved communities often don’t realize they can afford or get into a four-year college, especially a top-tier university like UC Berkeley,” says Gullatt. “It’s exciting to see students learn that something they thought was beyond their grasp is actually quite attainable… You see their whole vision for their future change.”

Also helping to spread the message — and to offer advice for aspiring college students — are the principals and associate superintendents of the districts, along with two seniors from their respective schools, who will shed some light on their own educational paths and share their hopes, dreams and experiences with the college application process.

The Center for Educational Partnerships, a campus department under Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, provides outreach and engagement with K-12 and community college students and educators to increase access to and success in higher education.

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