Warrenton freshman Marlie Annat knows she’s interested in music, but not how she would make a living.
Seaside freshman Jude Gomez knows he wants to be a lawyer, but needs help figuring out where to go for his undergraduate degree.
Annat and Gomez were among 27 students inducted this fall into Upward Bound, a student support program to help low-income and first-generation college hopefuls finish high school and beyond.
Upward Bound is funded by a five-year, $313,000 federal grant and administered through Clatsop Community College. The program takes up to 73 high schoolers at a time from Astoria, Warrenton and Seaside. Students receive in-depth academic support in high school and assistance applying for college and financial aid, including weekly meetings with an adviser.
“I’m a customizable high school counselor,” said Matt Bisek, a college and career adviser who meets with 50 students each week in Seaside and Warrenton. “If you get into this program, I’m working for you.”
Each summer, Upward Bound students spend six weeks in an academy taking English, math and foreign language courses at the college. They do field projects with local community groups and go on field trips around the state, including visits to several university and college campuses.
Gomez has always been a good student, with reading and math instilled early by his mother, Sondra, but said he plans to use Upward Bound’s tutoring services to help stay on top of his classes.
“I definitely want to go to an Ivy League school, because those are the best for law,” he said. “But the great thing about this is it will show all of the different state schools here and community schools, which will help me with my undergraduate.”
Aside from music, Annat has interest in newspaper editing and engineering, but said she isn’t quite sure what direction she’ll go.
“I think it will help me find out what other possibilities there are, different colleges I can possibly go to,” she said of Upward Bound.
The additional support dramatically improves academic performance. Upward Bound students averaged a 98 percent high school graduation rate between 2013 and last year, compared to 75 percent or less overall at Astoria, Warrenton and Seaside. Nearly 80 percent of high school graduates in Upward Bound last year started college the fall after graduating, compared to 61 percent of Clatsop County graduates overall.
Jon Graves directs the federal TRIO outreach and student support programs for the college, including Upward Bound and a less-intensive variant called Talent Search, which serves 671 middle and high school students in the county each year.
Besides the academic success, he said, Upward Bound intermingles high schoolers from around the county. “It really breaks down the barriers in Clatsop County,” he said.
New participants have two months to decide if they can meet all the program’s requirements before the college begins tracking their academic progress over the next seven to 10 years, Graves said.
“We do track how many Talent Search and Upward Bound students graduate with either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree within six years of starting college,” he said. “Currently, 41 percent of the Talent Search and Upward Bound students are graduating college within six years.”