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High School Visit Inspires Local Students to 'Achieve UC'

October 23, 2012

Chancellor Dorothy Leland visited Merced High School last week as part of Achieve UC, a systemwide initiative to show high school students how they can attain a University of California education.

The idea behind the event was to inspire students to aim for college, then provide them with the information they need to get there.

"Our core message is 'there is a place for you here,'" Leland said. "We want to inspire students, but also make them a pledge – if they do their part and study hard, apply themselves, take the tests and courses they need to qualify – we'll make sure there’s a place for them here at UC, and provide financial assistance to help them get here."

The outreach event showcased what the university is doing to enable students to achieve their college goals, whether those include going to a UC or another university. Leland's talk was followed by hands-on workshops at the high school with UC Merced admissions advisers.

The event was the first coordinated systemwide effort to connect high school students with leaders across the University of California, and reached about 10,000 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Senior leaders from each UC campus, including UC President Mark Yudof, visited high schools across the state as part of Achieve UC.

Beyond hearing from UC leadership, students received personalized assessments that highlight the specific courses they need to be eligible for admission to California’s public four-year colleges or, alternately, transfer into these schools through community colleges. These personalized road maps are designed to reach students at a critical juncture in their high school careers, so they have time to take the courses necessary to be well-prepared for postsecondary education.

Students also learned about financial aid programs designed to make college affordable to all Californians — such as the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers the full cost of fees for students whose families earn $80,000 a year or less.

During her talk, Leland reinforced the message that financial assistance shouldn't be an obstacle to pursuing higher education by announcing the Gateway Scholarship Program. The program, which is supported by an anonymous donor, began this fall and provides scholarships to incoming freshmen from Merced High School who attend UC Merced.