West Virginia students celebrate national initiative that helps them plan for life after high school
‘West Virginia GEAR UP’ assists thousands of West Virginia students with planning for an education or training beyond high school
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – This week, thousands of students in 10 West Virginia counties are celebrating a program that helps them prepare for postsecondary education.
GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federally funded program that helps to promote a college-going culture among schools all throughout the United States. In the Mountain State, the West Virginia GEAR UP program serves more than 5,000 students through activities that encourage and assist them in planning for and pursuing an education or training beyond high school. These activities include college visits, tutoring, mentoring, test preparation workshops, academic camps, financial aid workshops and career academies.
During the 2016-17 academic year, West Virginia GEAR UP students spent more than 30,000 hours engaged in activities that promote academic achievement, career awareness and interest, college awareness and ultimately increased participation in postsecondary education. Approximately 63 percent of GEAR UP seniors in the Mountain State filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, exceeding the statewide 60 percent completion goal for 2016-17. GEAR UP students are more likely than their peers to speak to someone in their school about college entrance requirements, and 83 percent of GEAR UP sophomores reported that they aspire to obtain at least a two-year degree.
The Division of Student Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) coordinates the West Virginia GEAR UP program. Carolyn Long, Interim Chancellor of the Commission, expressed her view that the West Virginia GEAR UP program is one of the Commission’s most effective programs.
“I am pleased to see the ongoing efforts of the GEAR UP program to help students continue learning after high school,” said Long. “It’s our hope that West Virginia’s students view high school graduation as a stepping stone toward their next educational endeavor, whether it’s attending a two- or four-year college or university, the military, a formalized apprenticeship or another form of high-quality education or training after high school. This week, we proudly celebrate the GEAR UP program and how it helps students plan for life after high school.”
Dr. Adam S. Green, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Commission, discussed how the program helps students even in terms beyond academics.
“Time and time again, we hear from our West Virginia GEAR UP students how much the program has helped them socially, from learning how to come out of their shells to connecting with other students to set and achieve their goals,” Green said. “They truly encourage one another to become the best versions of themselves. When these social skills are coupled with the academic and life skills students sharpen by participating in the GEAR UP program, these students become leaders among their peers. We are extremely proud of our GEAR UP students as well as the school staff who make the program the success that it is.”
Governor Jim Justice has proclaimed this week as “GEAR UP for College Week” in honor of the West Virginia GEAR UP initiative. The Governor’s proclamation of “GEAR UP for College Week” is concurrent with the national celebration of GEAR UP programs nationwide.
The current grant, which began in 2014 and will conclude in 2021, provides services to roughly 5,000 students annually in Boone, Fayette, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming counties. West Virginia GEAR UP has served the class of 2020 since their seventh grade year and will continue to do so through their first year of postsecondary education. The program also serves select seniors by providing “just-in-time” services, such as assistance with completing financial aid applications and researching postsecondary options. This year marks the program’s tenth consecutive year of serving students in the Mountain State.
Related social media pages/hashtags:
#WVGEARUPWorks (statewide hashtag)
#GEARUPWorks (national hashtag)