College Prep Outreach Program Expands to Fort Benning

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University will stage a pep rally at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15 to initiate another class of fifth-graders to a program geared to inspire them to start thinking about college.

Entering its fourth year, Taking a Step Towards College Prep has been a CSU-Harris County schools partnership. However, CSU has expanded the program in 2006-07 to Fort Benning Schools, whose 187 fifth-graders and their teachers will join more than 500 Harris County counterparts for the rally in the Fine Arts Hall auditorium.

CSU President Frank Brown and CSU Enrollment Services Executive Director Kathy Carlisle will speak to the students about setting goals for college. The event also will feature CSUs mascot, Cody the Cougar, and a performance by the CSU cheer squad.

Following the rally, participants will reconvene monthly at their schools for related activities, such as a college-themed Jeopardy game. These sessions will be fun but also get higher education on their minds even though its seven years ahead of them, said Steve Butler, director of CSUs Fort Benning campus, who is coordinating the program for the Fort Benning students.

These CSU Cody Club activities also will include invitations for the students and their parents to attend various CSU functions, including athletic events and at CSUs Coca-Space Science Center and Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. CSU also will provide information throughout the year on college preparation topics, targeting parents as well as the students and teachers.

Launching the program in 2003, Harris County and CSU officials targeted Harris County because of its higher-than-average number of potential first-generation college students. Furthermore, Harris County Schools Superintendent Susan Andrews said at the time children tend to start out highly motivated in the elementary grades but gradually lose that edge as they advance through high school. One reason, she added, is that many parents are unsure of how to effectively guide their childs college preparation.

Thee years later, CSU will measure the programs effectiveness as Carlisle and her staff, in late August, survey Harris County eighth-graders who comprised the programs inaugural class.

Guided by their teachers, these students have continued activities the past two years related to the CSU-administered program. During this time, informal feedback has indicated a positive impact, said Angel Culp, Harris Countys assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Particularly, parents have told us they feel ready to help their children for the college application and admission process, she said. This includes selecting the appropriate elective classes and extracurricular activities in high school.

For more information on the Harris County activities, contact coordinator Sharon Jamison in CSU Enrollment Services at 706-568-2437. For information on the Fort Benning activities, contact Steve Butler at 706-689-8668.