UC brings a message about college opportunity to high schoolers
In his first two years of high school, Oakland Technical High School student Austin Lau didn’t pay much attention to his studies. But toward the middle of his junior year, the future began to loom large. He thought about the opportunities open to him that were never possible for his parents, immigrants from China and Vietnam, who never had the chance to go to college.
“My father just had to work; he didn’t get to choose what he wanted to do,” Lau said, “I can decide what interests me and actually have the chance to study it.”
Lau, now a promising student and a member of Oakland Tech’s leadership group, hopes to attend a four-year university. Still, with no one in his family to guide him, the process of applying for college has been confusing. On Oct. 18, Lau and his classmates had the opportunity to meet with UC leaders, ask questions and get firsthand advice on applying to the University of California.
The visit was part of Achieve UC, a systemwide effort that brought UC leaders and admissions counselors into high schools around the state. In all, about 10,000 students were encouraged to aim for college and given practical guidance for getting there.
The event targeted schools with below-average levels of parental education. Students in such schools often face a gap in what educators call “college knowledge.” They may not understand financial aid, the application process, or the options available to them. Most important, students often lack confidence in their own abilities.
Peter Taylor, UC’s chief financial officer, attended the Oakland Tech event with the goal of helping students look in the mirror and see someone who is college material. Getting a UC education is not about background or connections, but about having the dedication to learn, the ambition to push oneself and the courage to dream big.
“There’s a place for you at UC,” Taylor said. “We have robust financial aid programs to help you and your family pay for college. We have programs in place to help you get from here to a great education at a top-tier research institution.”
In recent years, four out of five students from Oakland Tech who applied were admitted to at least one UC campus. Panelists explained that there are other, equally valid paths to college, such as transferring from a community college, as one third of UC students do.
Students received individualized transcripts showing them exactly which courses they needed to be eligible for admission to one of California’s public university systems. UC advisors also met with students and parents to talk through where each student was on their path to college.
“The students see all these campuses here, and it reverberates through the whole school,” said Oakland Tech Principal Sheilagh Andujar. “It really impresses upon our students the opportunities that are available to them.”
Visit the UC Newsroom for the complete story by Communications Coordinator Nicole Freeling.