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June 3, 2011

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College Bound Helps Seniors Navigate College Process

Among MRH High School's seniors crossing the stage May 27 were eleven pioneers—MRH's first graduating class of College Bound students. These students have spent the past two years preparing themselves to attend selective four-year colleges and universities by attending college fairs and visits, taking ACT preparatory classes, and participating in a rigorous in-school curriculum designed to enhance their college knowledge. These students will be attending schools including Lawrence University, Sewanee University, Missouri State University, Webster University, and SIUC. As a group they have been awarded over $250,000 in merit scholarships.

MRH’s partnership with College Bound, which began two years ago, seeks to create not just successful college students, but successful college graduates. All students who participate in the program continue to receive support throughout their four years of college—and they are empowered to overcome the obstacles that might cause others to drop out.

"I've seen too many people graduate and come back after a year at college," said recent graduate Alexis Moore. "When I go to college, I don’t want to come back until I earn my degree."

Many College Bound students feel that what they've learned through College Bound will empower them to do just this. According to recent graduate Charles BoClair, College Bound helped him understand the "fine print" of college. "I didn’t know about things like work study, or the different types of loans," he said. Moore agreed. "When I received my financial aid letter from one university, it looked like I received a lot of money. If I didn’t have College Bound, I would have gone there and been in serious debt," she said.

College Bound, which provides services at no expense to the district, works with students who need extra support to reach their college goals. "Their families may not have the financial resources for college or their parents may not have gone to college, or both," said Leah Boersig, a coach for College Bound. In addition to helping students understand the financial impact of college, College Bound provides academic, community service, and cultural enrichment opportunities to all students. These activities help shape students into competitive college applicants. Moore, for example, was accepted at six colleges and was able to navigate several factors to make the right decision. Moore is headed to Missouri State in the fall. "Without College Bound, I wouldn't have known what to do," she said.

Both BoClair and Moore also participated in summer pre-collegiate enrichment programs through College Bound. BoClair attended a math and science program at Sewanee University, where he will be attending in the fall, and Moore attended a writing workshop at Carleton College. Both say the experience helped them prepare for the academic environment at college. "The reading was hard. Kids there were valedictorians. Some had perfect scores on their ACT," said Moore. "At first, I was quiet in class and got lost in discussions, but eventually I got over my intimidation and said what I had to say. At the end of class, my professor pulled me aside and told me I made some very strong points. At Maplewood, I’m used to being at the top of my class, but being at Carleton made me realize how many people in college will be there to challenge me."

In the coming years, College Bound aims to widen its impact by helping to strengthen the overall college going culture at MRH. College Bound has already partnered with the MRH counseling department in co-hosting College Night and Financial Aid Night programs for students and their parents.

This fall, College Bound will continue working with BoClair, Moore, and the other nine students in college while also working with members of the incoming 10th, 11th, and 12th grade classes to prepare them for life after MRH.

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.