February 11, 2009

GETTING READY FOR SUCCESS: FNBA Helps Students Prepare for College


Through a generous gift from First National Bank Alaska (FNBA) in 2008, UAS embarked on its second year of the Getting Ready for College program, which is designed to help students from rural Southeast Alaska communities prepare for success after high school.

“This program, and the university’s partnership with First National Bank Alaska, enables us to reach out to our small, rural schools and assist students in preparing for post-secondary education,” said UAS chancellor John Pugh.  The $20,000 annual contribution for the Getting Ready for College program is a follow-up to FNBA’s three-year College Success gift, which ended in 2006.

“We believe that helping Alaskans succeed, whether in the classroom or in business, is a key to the future of our state,” said Lloyd Johnson, vice president and southeast regional manager of FNBA.

The Getting Ready for College program includes several different initiatives, including one called Do the Math.  As part of this initiative, 11th grade students are given the UAS placement test to assess their current math skills, and are encouraged to continue their math education through their senior year.

“National studies show a direct correlation between math achievement levels in high school and the likelihood that a student will complete college,” said Joe Nelson, UAS admissions director. “However, high school diploma requirements in Alaska are not aligned with college admission standards so too many of our top high school students land in developmental courses when they enter college.”

Through another initiative, a documentary titled “Alaska College Track 2” is being distributed throughout the UA system. The documentary, produced by KTOO-TV, discusses issues such as the High School Qualifying Exam, cultural differences, and the expectations gap between high schools and college educators. In addition to the university, the film has also been shown at national College Board conferences, and is the recipient of several 2008 state, regional and national awards.

Finally, through the Getting Ready for College program, UAS also hosts Student Success Retreats for secondary school staff from 13 communities.

“The retreats provide much-needed opportunities for rural Southeast teachers and counselors to network, take part in professional development workshops, and reconnect with former students,” Nelson said.

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