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Summer Immersion
Bridges High School to College Gap

February 25, 2009

By Henry DeVries

In an effort to bridge the gap from high school to college, UC San Diego Extension offers Academic Connections, a July 5 to 25, 2009 summer residential immersion program that gives high school students a taste of the real college experience in a safe and supervised environment. Eligible students participate in a non-stop, three-week summer program held on the UC San Diego campus, enrolled in classes that mirror the university experience, ranging from engineering to theatre production.

Photo of girl looking at spinning globe

Little time is wasted at Academic Connections. A typical day starts with breakfast at 7 am, lectures from 9 am until lunch, workshops and labs until 4 pm, an afternoon activity, dinner, and social activities from 7:30 pm until lights out at 11 pm.

High school students, entering grades 10-12, must have a 3.3 weighted grade point average (GPA) overall and a teacher or counselor recommendation. The program costs $3,450 per student who will reside on campus and $2,550 for students who will commute to campus daily. Since its inception in 2001, Academic Connections has graduated 2200 students. For registration information go to academicconnections.ucsd.edu.

“According to the federal research, the trajectory for academic success in college is established long before students arrive as freshmen,” says UC San Diego Extension Registrar Ed Abeyta, the director of academic connections. “A decade of opinion surveys reveals that three out of four high school students want a college education, but the percentage of freshmen who complete college within six years after their high school graduation is estimated at less than 25 percent, based on an 18-month study by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Thanks to community partners about 20 percent of students receive scholarships, allowing an opportunity for talented students who can benefit from the program but cannot afford to participate without financial assistance.

Via a combination of lectures, labs, study halls, discussion roundtables and guest speakers, the students get a taste of what college will be like. Courses are selected to represent some of the cutting edge fields of research UC San Diego has to offer in physical and social sciences, engineering, and arts and humanities.

A key partner has been Reality Changers, founded by Christopher Yanov, who graduated from the UC San Diego in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish Literature.  In 2001 Reality Changers was able to send 2 students to Academic Connections. Through the years the numbers have steadily grown and in 2009 an estimated 50 students from Reality Changers will attend.

Four other program partners who sponsor students are The Preuss School, Aquatic Adventures, CREATE and Child Abuse Prevention Foundation.

UC San Diego’s The Preuss School is a middle and high school dedicated to providing a single-track, college preparatory education for motivated low-income students who will become the first in their families to graduate from college. Virtually all graduates head off to a four-year or two-year college, from UC Berkeley and UC San Diego to MIT and Harvard. Aquatic Adventures provides educational programs that connect underserved youth to science, inspires environmental action and increases exposure to marine habitats. The goal of UC San Diego’s CREATE, the Center of Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence, is to form partnerships with historically low-income school districts in order to increase college admittance. The Child Abuse Prevention Foundation is best know for raising $12 million to build the A.B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center, the County’s emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. During 2008 they will sponsor foster children to attend Academic Connections.


Media Contact: Henry DeVries, 619-540-3031 or 858-534-9955

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