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Delaware Students Get Familiar with the College Process

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The Delaware Goes to College initiative has cracked the code on high school students. The program is woven into the fabric of what every high school student finds most important: their phone! Delaware Goes to College has a texting campaign for Delaware students in grades nine–twelve (parents can participate, too). This statewide texting program is the only one of its kind in the country.

The program works like this: when a student signs up, text messages are tailored to that student’s grade level. Seniors will receive two texts per month that include helpful information and reminders about FAFSA, financial aid, and scholarships. Texts will also include “to do lists” that contain steps that students take to get into college. Students in grades 9 – 11 receive one text per month to help them begin to think about their future and stay focused on college.

Students can also text in and ask questions at any time. Eleventh graders might ask a question like “What is FAFSA” (because I certainly didn’t know) and staff from the Delaware Department of Education’s Higher Education Office and the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration will respond via text.

The texting campaign is a smart tactic because it reaches students in an innovative way. The program uses a platform that kids understand and respond well to. Students are constantly on their phones and the texting program allows students to ask questions inside and, importantly, outside the classroom. And getting brief reminders about college and the application process can make a crucial difference in a student’s decision to enroll in and attend college after graduation.

Delaware strives to have students that are motivated and on the right track. The texting campaign is a community collaboration—students, parents, and schools—that actively works to achieve this goal.

Sign up now!

Students: Text the word “Student” to 302-273-5310

Parents: Text the word “Parent” to 302-273-5320

Note: College access professionals can also participate if they text “Counselor” to the parent number: 302-273-5320

UD Club Provides Support for Delaware Kids

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The University of Delaware (UD) has hundreds of clubs, or Resident Student Organizations (RSOs) on campus. One RSO in particular echoes Delaware efforts, as well as national efforts, to serve and help young children. The Student Association for the Education of Young Children (SAEYC)—mirrored after DAEYC and NAEYC—is a club that links students with service opportunities for children.

With about 30 active members, SAEYC participants develop relationships, promote academic success, and play with kids in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware. The club often has events at the A.I. duPont Hospital and that is where my SAEYC experience began. The first SAEYC event I ever attended was two years ago, as a sophomore at UD. I was dragged to the event by a friend, and with little knowledge about the club or the hospital, we hopped in the SAEYC driver’s car and traveled to A.I. DuPont. I was not entirely thrilled to be there, but decided to make the best of the situation. When we arrived, a hospital worker printed us out nametags and led us down the white hallways to the Child Life Center.

When we entered the room I nervously sat down next to a young boy. I pulled out the craft I brought and we sat and decorated a mask together for Halloween. I made conversation with the boy and got a response every so often. I was discouraged by his quietness, but then boy surprised me and asked if I wanted to play air hockey with him. He was a surprisingly good player and we had a fun time challenging each other. Just as both of were getting comfortable, the two hour volunteer shift was over. I was sad to leave because I felt like I just got started. As I walked back through the sterile, white hallways I decided I had learned two things: 1) being in a hospital as child is hard and 2) volunteering time towards these kids makes a difference.

Now, as president of the club, I encourage members to participate in all events, but I always advocate a little extra for the hospital.

SAEYC members also babysit children in the New Directions Early Head Starts (NDEHS) program, read stories to kids on Saturday mornings at the Newark Public Library, and provide one-on-one tutoring once a week at the College School near UD.

Clubs exist to meet the demands of student’s interests: and there is clearly an interest in the quality of our child care and the future of our children. SAEYC at UD works to fill a tiny niche that is part of a much broader effort to provide appropriate socio-emotional and educational support for kids. SAEYC is small, but like Delaware has a large focus on serving children.

Delaware Students have a Bright Future with MERIT

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What do Seaford, Delaware, and GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson have in common? The answer is: the Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training program (MERIT) program. John Hollis, of Seaford, is the director of the MERIT program and long-time friends with Carson.

MERIT aims to get minorities involved in STEM education and, since 1974, 350 students—97 percent, graduated from college. In the early 1990s, Carson spoke to young African American MERIT students who struggled to reach graduation. According to Hollis, Carson mesmerized the kids because he was not only a skilled surgeon but also a wonderful speaker. After this encounter, Hollis got Carson to work as a motivator and fundraiser with the MERIT program. Carson’s sons also participated in the three-week MERIT summer program.

Originally, the MERIT program only operated during the school year, but now extends into the summer to maintain momentum towards academic success. During the school year, MERIT offers: team-building engineering competitions—think fighting robots, in- and out-of-state college visits, academic enrichment field trips, and science club meetings. The summer programs functions through in-kind support from Delaware Technical Community College, and focuses on intense preparation in math, computer, and communication skills.

In addition to academic success, the program focuses on a whole-child approach. The program emphasizes parent engagement, teaches personal responsibility, demands a “pay it forward” attitude, and helps student develop a desire to give back. Similar to the Vision Coalition of Delaware’s Student Success 2025 plan and other Delaware initiatives, MERIT encourages students to not just be proficient, but to exceed their own expectations. The MERIT program prepares students for college success and equips them with the necessary skills to excel in their personal life and career.

MERIT demonstrates the ability for Delaware to produce great leaders, educators, and innovators, if we give students the correct levers for success. Commitment to education and attention to whole-child support can lead students to a career, college, or even the White House.

Note: John Hollis was a finalist for the first year of iEducate Delaware (2012).

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