Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
St. Paul, MN--School may be out for the summer, but the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) has several initiatives underway aimed at helping students not only retain when they learned during the school year, but also help them prepare and plan for college.
"Students can not only experience summer learning loss, they often lose contact with the support system they relied on in school to help keep them on track," said OHE Commissioner Larry Pogemiller. "Our outreach efforts and student enrichment programs seek to counter this learning loss by providing both support and learning opportunities."
Next week, OHE is partnering with the city of Minneapolis to provide a series of college prep sessions to Minneapolis Parks and Rec Teen Teamworks and STEP UP participants. Trained OHE outreach staff will offer two sessions each day at North Community High School and South High School on the many different types of colleges and post-secondary options as well as the seven main ways to finance a college education.
Both Teamworks and STEP UP offer summer employment and enrichment opportunities for qualifying youth. In addition to a paid job or internship, students also benefit from lessons on a variety of subjects, including STEM fields of study, and life skills and enrichment lessons. At the end of the summer, participants are able to take the Minnesota Basic Skills Test to earn high school credit.
For the second year in a row, OHE has hired STEP UP interns to work on a variety of projects. This year, four students are exploring postsecondary career options by visiting campuses and work sites, and documenting their experiences in a series of Career Exploration videos and a Choosing a College video.
Their final works will be posted on the OHE website and exhibited at the State Fair.
A pilot program called "Summer Nudging," designed to offer students helpful reminders between their last day of high school and first day of postsecondary, is also underway.
The idea for the pilot came from a Harvard study of the same name, which found that "an automated and personalized text messaging campaign to remind students of required college tasks substantially increased college enrollment...." In other words, students, especially first-generation students, often need gentle reminders to keep them on track for starting school in the fall.
OHE staff is working with students at Johnson High School in St. Paul and Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. The reminders are focused on completing financial aid forms to preparing for orientation to registering for their first classes. Students can choose to receive reminders via text, e-mail or phone call.
If the "Summer Nudging" program is a success, OHE will likely expand it to more students next year. A summary of results will be available at the end of summer.
Again this summer, OHE is providing stipends to help low-income students in grades 3-11 attend eligible summer academic enrichment programs. The program is made possible by the Federal College Access Challenge Grant program. Over 700 students are receiving financial assistance to attend the academic camp of their choice.
Finally, OHE's Get Ready program partners with several established summer camps throughout Minnesota to provide academic summer opportunities for youth. This year's camps include Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, SCRUBS camp and St. Cloud State Math-computer-science camp. They also collaborate with the St. Paul school district, the Minnesota Zoo and Metropolitan State University in the design and implementation of other camps.
Most camps build leadership skills, allow students to learn about a college campus and provide academic skills during the summer. All partners provide an in-kind match to the GEAR UP federal grant which funds these opportunities.
For more information about any of these programs, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.