Program Offers High School Students A College Preview

Jul 7, 2014

About 70 Kentucky high school students are getting a taste of college life at the University of Kentucky through a program called “Gear Up.”


It’s coming down to the wire for participants as the three-week immersive college-readiness program wraps up and assignments are due.

"They're giving us the real experience. So if we don't do our homework, the teacher don't care," Dunbar High School student Seneca Blackford says, noting the differences in expectations between her usual classes and the courses on offer during Gear Up.

That’s because the program isn’t just a non-interactive lecture series introducing middle and high school kids to college. It’s modeled on a full course load for a first year UK student, complete with the dreaded 8 a.m. class.

Ben Withers, associate provost for undergraduate education at UK, says the program, funded through federal grants and administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education, is meant to ease the transition.

"They're here for three weeks. They're living in dorms. They're walking back and forth between classes. They get a sense of what it's like to have conversations about intellectual concepts over lunch and dinner, so they're really living the college life," he says.

That said, there is one small difference. When the mini-semester winds down this Saturday, students who successfully completed their work will go home with a new iPad.