For many first-generation and low-income students, simply the idea of attending college can be daunting. The cost of higher education might be prohibitive. The application process can be complicated and overwhelming.
Even with a committed support network, it can all be too much.
“Oftentimes for first-generation students, college is not something that’s expected … It is now starting to be a little bit more like ‘hey, you should go to college’ but it is not as widespread as in more affluent communities,” said Miguel Peralta, director of Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program.
The Upward Bound Math-Science program is pulling down those barriers for high school students in Middletown, Meriden, and New Britain, Conn. In 2021, 30 of the 32 students who graduated from the program are moving on to higher education. Twenty-six of those students are bachelor-degree bound. Over 100 students participate in the program in the three towns, with most joining after their first year of high school and staying through graduation.
It’s part of a continued successful trend, with approximately 90 percent of Upward Bound participants over the past five years continuing their education. “This is the level of success we are accustomed to,” Peralta said. “We are trying to help students not just go to college but to thrive there as well.”
“We have had students at Wesleyan who took part in Upward Bound here in the local area (and have done very well here!), and—since it’s a federal program with chapters across the country—we have also had Wesleyan students who took part in Upward Bound programs in their own home areas,” said April Ruiz, dean for academic equity, inclusion, and success. “Upward Bound does a wonderful job helping students to feel informed and empowered as they consider pursuing higher education.”