Oklahoma GEAR UP - Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs - recognized continued success in helping Tahlequah students and families better prepare for college during National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 23-27. The celebration week showcased the college-access program funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education administers the Oklahoma GEAR UP program. Since 1999, Oklahoma has received four consecutive, multi-year, statewide GEAR UP grants, which has helped improve educational outcomes for thousands of Oklahoma students.

"National GEAR UP Week provides a special opportunity to reflect on the excellent progress we have made in student preparation through GEAR UP," said Jolynn Horn, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education assistant vice chancellor for GEAR UP. "We celebrate the partnership between GEAR UP and Tahlequah Public Schools, which is improving awareness of college opportunities and teaching students the steps they need to apply to college, pay for college and succeed in college."

During 2018-19, Oklahoma GEAR UP worked directly with Tahlequah Public Schools to provide early intervention services and strategies for approximately 1,673 students in grades seven through 12. A few of the impacts include:

• 226 high school freshmen attended rookie camp or back-to-school sessions that help students transition with confidence to high school or middle school.

• 451 students toured a college campus to learn about academic programs and campus life.

• 74 educators attended GEAR UP professional training in topics such as school leadership and professional learning communities.

• 325 students received academic mentoring and-or counseling.

• 427 students received information that provided guidance on how to apply for financial aid, such as Oklahoma's Promise, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, community scholarships and other financial aid programs.

• 259 high school juniors completed a free ACT exam provided by Oklahoma GEAR UP.

• 198 students in eighth, ninth or 10th grade enrolled in Oklahoma's Promise.

• 153 high school seniors participated in College App Week last November and completed college admission applications with the assistance of on-site college mentors.

GEAR UP goes beyond the classroom, encouraging community and parental involvement that help school districts create and sustain a college-going culture. Through awareness activities and services, the grant helps promote Oklahoma's Promise, the state scholarship program, and encourages families to start planning for college early at OKcollegestart.org.

Learn more at okgearup.org.

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