Thanks to a $30,000 grant, Lakeview High School students are receiving an early start to their post-secondary education plans.
When Guidance Counselor Paige Rambour stumbled upon the College Access Grant by EducationQuest, a nonprofit organization working toward improving access to high education in Nebraska, she said it was an opportunity too good to ignore. Rambour proceeded to submit an application for the first time in the spring.
As a result, Lakeview High was one of 22 Nebraska high schools – including Schuyler Central, Auburn, Burke, Falls City, Omaha Central and York high schools – to be awarded the four-year grant at the end of July. The amount each school received depended on their enrollment. Lakeview was allocated $7,500 annually to provide students with college campus visits, dual-credit courses, as well as college fairs and educational planning programs.
The grant provides multi-year funding to Nebraska high schools with a goal of increasing the schools’ college-going rate by 10 percentage points, according to EducationQuest’s website. Since the program was established in 2006, the organization has awarded a total of $4.3 million in grants to 89 Nebraska schools.
Since the start of this school year, students have been given the opportunity to tour the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Doane University. Participants’ travel expenses and food were covered through the grant.
Rambour said these trips were catered mostly to sophomores and juniors to encourage early planning, noting there are two more visits scheduled for the rest of the year. She added senior students are advised to schedule individual trips to the college of their choice.
“My goal is just to expose them to get on campus. I think it’s huge, especially for our sophomores and juniors,” she said. “Sometimes students just don’t have that opportunity, or parents are working and they can’t take them to go on a campus and see what college life is really like…”
Sophomore Will Becker, who hopes to pursue his college education in literature, visited Doane University for the first time. Becker said he was surprised by how much the university had to offer and listed it as one of his future options.
“I think that it's really unique how we can get a head start in our sophomore year of high school,” Becker said. “(We) get a chance to get to know where we really want to go (for college).”
After receiving a lot of advice from seniors and his older siblings, who are currently in college, Becker said it’s important for high school students to begin planning for college early on. By participating in the trip, Becker said he was given the opportunity to ask questions about programs, financial aid, student housing and scholarships options.
But, the search does not end there for Becker. He said he hopes to visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the future.
Because not every student has the same plans after high school, Rambour said she strives to provide options by organizing trips to public, private, two-year and four-year colleges.
“Just to get them thinking about what the differences are and where they see themselves best fitting in,” she said.
Rambour said she hopes to introduce more programs to help students outline their futures.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for all of our high school students to have more exposure to what’s out there and what opportunities they do have,” she said.
Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.