University of California, San Diego Extension is holding a graduation for the 373 participants of Academic Connections, a three-week program designed to prepare high school students for the college experience, this Saturday Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. at the Price Center on campus. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony.
Academic Connections is open to students with a 3.3 or higher and offers hands-on educational opportunities in such subjects as science, engineering and math while providing college credit for the coursework. Because it is primarily a residential program, Academic Connections also provides students with a college-like experience to help them prepare for the real thing – both academically and socially.
While the cost of Academic Connections is $3,900, UC San Diego Extension is committed to ensuring that students of different backgrounds and income levels are able to participate by offering a robust scholarship program. Of the more than 373 students in this year’s Academic Connections class, 126 received some form of scholarship totaling almost $275,000. Recipients include foster youth, students from Imperial Valley high schools as well as participants in Reality Changers, a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youth attend college.
Ed Abeyta, assistant dean for community engagement and director of pre-collegiate and career preparations for UC San Diego Extension, said Academic Connections is part of the university’s larger mission to ensure a diverse and socially engaged campus that reflects the San Diego region.
“UC San Diego Extension is committed to being a true partner to all of the region’s communities and is there to help find ways to connect and nurture the brightest young minds that San Diego has to offer,” he said.
The ongoing education gap continues to be a focus not only for UC San Diego but for colleges around the country. Just this week U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said more must be done to improve college attainment and success, especially when it comes to low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students.
Abeyta said Academic Connections aligns perfectly with that mission. Since 2001, 90 percent of all the students who have participated in the program have gone on to college. Because the program offers college credit, it also helps students graduate from college at a faster pace.
Students choose one of approximately 25, three-week courses offered. Classes meet five hours a day, with a maximum of 22 students per class, to ensure quality interaction with instructors and instructional assistants. Academic Connections instructors are typically UC San Diego doctoral students who design and instruct the course. To find out more, please visit academicconnections.ucsd.edu.