UC San Diego Extension Now enrolling for Summer Immersion Programs to Bridge the Gap from High School to College

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Academic Connections at the University of California, San Diego, is a pre-college summer academic and residential experience targeted to highly motivated, high achieving, college-bound high school students entering grades 10-12, to explore the best UCSD has to offer. The goal of the Academic Connections program is to connect select high school students with UCSD by providing hands-on college subject matter courses. Program participation provides students with the opportunity to experience life and learning at a top-ranked research university, located in the beautiful San Diego area.

UCSD Extension

It has never been more important to spark the imagination of our students, expose them to big ideas and give them the tools they will need to be successful in a world we can't even imagine

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. According to the federal research, the trajectory for academic success in college is established long before students arrive as freshmen.

In an effort to bridge the gap from high school to college and ease the transition from high school to college, UC San Diego Extension offers Academic Connections, a July 6 to 26 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.

While boot camp might be too strong a term, little time is wasted at the Academic Connections immersion programs. A typical day starts with breakfast at 7am, lectures from 9 am until lunch, workshops and labs until 3:30 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 grade point average (GPA) overall and a teacher or counselor recommendation. The program costs $3,450 per student. Since its inception in 2001, Academic Connections has graduated 2000 students. For registration and further information about the immersion programs, visit UCSD Academic Connections.

Thanks to community partners about 10 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.

"It has never been more important to spark the imagination of our students, expose them to big ideas and give them the tools they will need to be successful in a world we can't even imagine," says UC San Diego Extension Registrar Ed Abeyta, the director of Academic Connections.

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 ease the transition from high school to college and 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. During the past seven years, 100 current students and 50 program graduates from Reality Changers have earned over $3,000,000 in scholarships, thanks to the mentoring, tutoring and door opening opportunities Yanov and his team have provided.

In 2001 Reality Changers was able to send 2 students to Academic Connections. Through the years the numbers have steadily grown and in 2008 an estimated 40 students from Reality Changers will attend.

Three other program partners who sponsor students are The Preuss School, Aquatic Adventures 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 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.

About UC San Diego Extension

UC San Diego is one of the nation's most accomplished research universities, widely acknowledged for its local impact, national influence and global reach. As the continuing education and public programs arm of the university, UC San Diego Extension educates about 40,000 people a year through innovative local, corporate and online programs. Extension is recognized nationally and internationally for linking the public to expert professionals and the knowledge resources of the University of California. Through UCSD-TV, 1 million San Diego homes enjoy daily access to an abundance of useful ideas, creative minds and provocative thinkers. Although a part of the university since 1966, Extension receives no state support and relies on the funding generated from fees, contracts, grants, sponsors and donors for its annual budget of approximately $30 million. UCSD News on the web at: UCSD News

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Henry DeVries

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