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Upward Bound: Why Sophomores Should Apply!

Student Author: Whitney R.

As most of our sophomores have heard, Upward Bound staff have visited our school. It’s the time of year again where they come to ask sophomores to apply for this program! 

The History

Upward Bound (UB) was originally authorized by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. It was the first of three programs to be funded and was later named, the TRIO programs. They are designed to work alongside federal financial aid programs with their main purpose to help overcome educational, social, class, and cultural barriers. 

Who Gets In

All students who apply must consider college. Students should also have college potential with a need for either academic, social, cultural, or career enrichment. Students who have a low income (set forth by the federal government [150% of poverty]) and students who are first-generation college students (this means no natural or adoptive parent/s living in the same house has a four-year college degree) meet the hardest part of getting accepted into the program. This part is set by the government, is not chosen by Upward Bound, and changes every year.

After you apply, Upward Bound will review your application and inform you if you have made it past the first stage of becoming accepted. The second part of the process is a one-on-one interview with a staff member.

If you pass all the steps, Congratulations! You are officially a part of Upward Bound, but you’re not out of the woods yet. 

After joining, there are weekly meetings after school (which will start the second semester). This is where the fun begins! 

UB carefully decides this from the beginning and it is unlikely they’ll ask you to leave. If you want to stay and they want you, then you are officially a part of the UB family! 

All of the UB students during the 2019 summer session with UB staff

What Upward Bound Does For You

Students who join Upward Bound are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than students with similar backgrounds who don’t participate in any TRIO programs. There is free tutoring once a week at school and a separate schedule for online tutoring (depending on the tutor’s class schedule). The tutoring that happens at school also offers guidance in other areas like career and finances (e.g. résumé techniques and how to set up a savings account). It might not sound fun to get tutored once a week, but Reily, a mentor with UB for one semester, says, “After a while, the kids seem really excited to come [to tutoring] and hang out with friends. Often times, you get to make friends from other schools, people you probably would never have met otherwise.” 

Upward Bound offers many financial benefits when it comes to education like two waivers for a free ACT test, unlimited waivers for applications to college, and many more! They also offer stipends when you attend their weekly meetings. For sophomores, the stipend is worth six dollars a week, but it can grow when you are a junior/senior that meets the requirements. When you do the summer session, they also offer ten dollars stipend weekly. All you have to do for the minimum stipend is participate in the meetings and sign a paper stating you were there. Upward Bound does this because they know that it is easier to go to work and get money rather than go to a meeting, but they want to encourage students to come so they receive help with school and therefore better their education. Brooke, a mentor with UB for two summers and four semesters, spoke about her preliminary research project over how UB helps students from rural Missouri get in to college saying, “It’s clear that without the resources we are able to provide, students don’t know where to turn for help. I believe Upward Bound creates a community for students to learn about difficult topics such as applying for the FAFSA, learning strategies for taking the ACT, and simply completing college applications.”

Milan/Putnam Schools with UB staff at their first weekly meeting of the year Back row (Left to right): Whitney (junior), Geneva (senior), Eboni (senior), Trinity (senior), and Tristian (junior) Middle (left to right): Reily (Staff), Carly (Staff), Erica (Staff), Trinity (senior), Zamera (junior), Carson (junior), Miles (junior) Front (left to right): Brooke (Staff), Dylan (junior), Micheal (senior)

The People You’ll Meet 

When you become a part of Upward Bound, one of the biggest things you’ll do is meet new people. During the school year, Upward Bound staff and students from Milan come to our school once a week for meetings with students at our school. This group is smaller, though it will seem large once we welcome sophomores. During the summer, you’ll spend about six weeks on Truman’s campus with all the Upward Bound students from other schools (Green City, Knox Co., LaPlata, Macon, Milan, Moberly, NE Randolph (Cairo), Schuyler Co. (Queen City) and Westran (Huntsville.)) Hailey, a junior in the Upward Bound program, says, “My favorite part of UB is meeting everybody and making new friends and learning more about other cultures and experiences and other people’s problems and their life.”

The Community That Waits for You

People in UB are really excited about the new sophomores joining! Hailey says “I’m actually really excited because it’s a very good program and they can better themselves.” Reily says, “It’s neat meeting new people and I can’t wait to mold and shape them into fine, young students.” And Carson D. from our own school says “I’m hopeful that a lot of them take advantage of the amazing opportunity.” Then Brooke said, “The spring semester is by far my favorite due to the sophomores joining! They really change the dynamic of the center for the better. I also enjoy seeing the juniors and seniors become mentors to the new members.”

There is a lot more to Upward Bound than this article can describe. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It gives you relationships you will never forget, skills you didn’t know you needed, and a new part of your personality that you will love. This program is so much more, but unless you join, you will never know! Even if you think you don’t need help with school or college, we encourage you to try it out. Upward Bound is a life changer for many students and someday it could be one for you.


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