Upward Bound provides opportunity at BFA

Ambyr Wagner, Writer

High school students have a tough time when it comes to college. Some worry about the process and how they are going to get into college, while others are afraid that they will not have the money to pay for a higher education.

Upward Bound, a program run by Johnson State College and other New England schools, is giving some students opportunities that will help them get into college.

“[It] is a 3 year program; it’s a program for kids that have parents who haven’t gone to college or if they come from low income families,” Emily Robtoy (‘17) said.

The program is funded by TRIO, a federal program “funded through the Department of Education, which means the program is free for all students and families!” dollarsforscholars.org said.

It offers many different college related experiences to students who participate, and some may seem unrelated to college at first glance.

For example, participants can participate in the Greening Summit- a competition to improve the community through grants. There is a long process that students go through in order to make the community (in which they live in) a better place.

“Upward Bound helps the students by immersing them in a college experience. The students will take college classes at the college during the summer… learn to read and interpret their FAFSA and other financial barriers to get to college… [and] learn about the application process and how they will pay for college once they get there,” Bryce Balentine, a 2016 BFA graduate and a current Champlain College student said.

Even the dorm rooms are part of the college experience.

“You stay in a dorm room with a roommate that you don’t know, so it’s very similar to a college experience. You’re there Monday through Friday and for the weekends you get to go home; you do your homework or whatever and you come back,” Robtoy said.

If you don’t have any colleges in mind, then the program could help you out.

“We go all over the place; last year we went to Philadelphia and we toured at least seven or eight schools…. We went to Maine, New Hampshire and some of Vermont as well. They make you bring this question sheet and you have to ask every single question on every college tour and get it all filled out,” Robtoy said.

Asking questions may be uncomfortable and intimidating but doing so answers questions for all of the participants.

“College tours through Upward Bound are extremely helpful. They allow the students to ask great questions so they can get a better idea of what going to this college would actually consist of…  On top of these tours, we also research schools that interest us. This allows us to broaden our scope of college knowledge outside of New England,” Balentine said.

Only recently is the program going through a budget cut, which will not significantly affect the opportunities that the program is offering.

There are lots of things that are appealing to many low-income and potential college students, such as learning and becoming comfortable with campus life, doing lots of community service and participating in all of the fun activities that the program holds.

“The whole program’s free. We stay on campus, we eat college food, and live there for five weeks except for the weekends which is all free,” Robtoy said.

It’s clear to see that there are considerably more benefits participating in the program than if somebody decided not to.

“Students obtain so many valuable life skills through Upward Bound,” Balentine said.

It takes some time, but many participants seem to have a lot of fun.

“There’s a lot of time commitment but it’s an awesome program,” Robtoy said.

To get into the program, there needs to be a recommendation from a guidance counselor, teacher or from a student within the program.

Interested in the program? Talk to someone on whether you qualify. Any mentioned above could also answer any more questions that may be swimming around in your head.