6/24/14 Getting ahead of the game
Photos by Sam Roberts / Times-News
At top, Malika Moore participates in a hip hop dance class Monday during Elon Academy at the fitness center at Elon University.
Getting ahead of the game
Students learn about getting into college at Elon Academy
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 6/24/14
Reprinted with permission.
|Above, Tyler Ceparano works out in a strength conditioning class. Moore, Ceparano and other high school students are staying four weeks at Elon taking classes along with extracurricular activities to get a dose of the college experience.|
ELON — The crowd Monday evening at Elon University’s Lakeside Dining Hall was younger than it would be when classes were in session.
It was made up of about 70 rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from Alamance County schools there to learn how to get into college through the Elon Academy.
“It gives me the knowledge of how college life is,” said Geraldo Cruz, 15, a rising Cummings High School sophomore in his first summer at the academy. “It just brightens my world. It’s showing me new stuff out there besides sports and TV.”
The academy is a college access program the university started in 2007, partly in response to Judge Howard Manning, who put Cummings on a list of low-performing schools around the state. The program seeks out students with good grades and an interest in going to college, but poor chances of getting into college, like having little or no family members who have gone, and financial need.
It is a small, but successful program. This year, 147 applied and 24 got in. Most of the first group of 22 to enter the academy in 2007 just graduated from college last month.
The four-week summer academy is the most intense, and fun, part of the program. Students take classes in the morning and afternoon, like trigonometry, financial management, the brain or 21st century leaders.
In the evenings, they can take more physical classes like tae kwon do, hip-hop dancing or fishing.
They also break into their cohorts every day to take classes on college preparation.
“They are in different places in the college-planning process,” said Terry Tomasek, director of the Elon Academy.
It starts general and works its way to the specific. The younger students — this cohort is called by the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, Iota — are reading a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, a more fun version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Tomasek said it teaches things like the value of setting goals.
These 14- and 15-year-olds also are finding out what it is like to be away from home, and how to get along with roommates and meet and get to know new people.
“It gets you out of your comfort zone,” said Jocslyn Alvarado, a rising sophomore at Western Alamance High School.
They also get the chance to visit colleges, sometimes for the first time. Jeremy Legette, a rising sophomore at Southern, said his first visit to N.C. State University added it to the list of schools he wants to apply to.
Legette has a strong idea about what he wants to do: sports management. A lot of these students already have plans. But the rising juniors — Thetas — are thinking about the colleges that could get them there.
The rising seniors — Etas — are learning about writing college essays.
“It is a major part of our applications,” said Angelica Villanueva, a rising senior at Cummings.
Villanueva and the others in their last year of the Elon Academy are narrowing down the schools they will apply to.
“Safety, match and reach schools,” said Jessica Judy, a River Mill Academy rising senior.
All this puts them ahead of the game, said Kena Brincefield, another River Mill senior. They have seen seniors figure out and juggle the college-application workload with their classes.
“We have done a lot of it in the summer,” Brincefield said.
The rest of the year, the Elon Academy scholars, as they are called, get regular sessions with mentors to keep on track, and sessions to learn about scholarships. Some of them, like 16-year-old Katie Durham, of Southern Alamance High School, have already started scholarship applications.
“It was an experience,” she said, and one that will make it easier next time — or at least more familiar.