As I’ve went through my high school career, the talk of college has only increased. Teachers and administration encourage us to begin college tours, take the ACT, and even begin looking for scholarship opportunities. For too many, (especially in rural Kentucky), this process is extremely difficult for more reasons than just one. For starters, many can not make the journey to colleges miles and miles away to view colleges that can potentially be a good fit for them. Moreover, many have no clue where to even begin, lacking parents who have went through the pre-college process themselves. Though schools can be a tremendous help and do what they can, it can be very difficult for them to devote sufficient, one-on-one time to students who need help getting to college. And that is why I’m so thankful for a program I’ve been involved in for two years now, the Upward Bound program.
Many of you, sadly, have probably not even heard of this program, or if you have you may only have a vague idea of its function. I’m one of the many students who will, quite proudly, be a first-generation college student. Upward Bound is a program specifically designed for first generation and/or students who come from low income homes who are dedicated to receiving a post-secondary education. However, that previous sentence doesn’t at all capture the essence of the true nature of Upward Bound and how useful it is to students not only in just my state, but the entire country.
Throughout my time in the program, we have been on several college visits both near and far from home. (The University of Pikeville, Northen Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, and the College of Charleston just to name a few.) Had I not been a part of UB, I wouldn’t have been able to tour and receive information on half of these colleges/universities. Additionally, throughout my UB career we have received so much information on KEES money, the FAFSA, and other scholarship and grant programs. We also receive preparation for the ACT, and get plenty of assistance in the classroom if necessary.
Did I mention this was all FREE? Throughout my time in UB, I think the only time I’ve paid for anything was for souvenirs when went to Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the summer. (I think I also forgot to mention at the end of the summer we get to go on awesome trips.) Though the program is free, there is a time commitment required. However, it’s a time commitment I easily put in, for the return Upward Bound gives me is so much more than what I could ever describe.
Why aren’t programs like this one receiving more recognition and interest?
Programs like this one have made me feel secure in my success in my future post-high school endeavors and have opened my eyes to so many opportunities.
If hearing the word “college” absolutely terrifies you, or if you don’t think it’d ever be a possibility for you, or if you just want some guidance through the process, I encourage you to look into Upward Bound. If you are looking for lifelong friendships and amazing mentors, look into Upward Bound. It can be scary to go at the college process alone, and with UB you don’t have to. I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing group, and my only regret is that I didn’t join sooner.