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High School Students Take Crash Course in College Experience through ACCESS Program

Week-long Residential, Educational Program Gives Students Head Start on College Success

June 20, 2013

Students in the ACCESS program got a taste of Wilmington College's hallmark of service as they worked in the food pantry at Sugartree Ministries' Your Father's Kitchen Thursday morning. Sorting and bagging fresh apples are, from the left, WC sophomore Jadie Riewoldt, Sierra Greene, a senior at Butler Tech, and J'onae Wright and Takeisha Hergins, seniors at Western Hills High School.

Students in the ACCESS program got a taste of Wilmington College's hallmark of service as they worked in the food pantry at Sugartree Ministries' Your Father's Kitchen Thursday morning. Sorting and bagging fresh apples are, from the left, WC sophomore Jadie Riewoldt, Sierra Greene, a senior at Butler Tech, and J'onae Wright and Takeisha Hergins, seniors at Western Hills High School.

More than a dozen high school students from Butler County got a taste of college life this week through a crash course program offered by Wilmington College.

The College partnered with the Warren and Butler County Educational Service centers in creating ACCESS (Academic College Experience for Student Success).

College officials designed the six-day program (June 16 through 21) as a realistic immersion into college that included exposure to success strategies, interactive experiences, leadership and service learning.

A consensus of the high school students found the opportunity for making new friends as the most enjoyable part of the experience — something shared by college students around the country.

Takeisha Hergins, who will be a senior this fall at Western Hills High School, concurred: “Meeting new people is my favorite thing. Also, we took classes on the ACT test and finding careers,” she said. “They did things with us they do with new freshmen — showing us the college life.”

Her Western Hills peer, J’onae Wright, added, “I’m looking forward to the raft trip — there will be time to get to know everybody better.”

Sierra Greene, who will be a senior at Butler Tech, was impressed with the faculty members’ presentations.

“They told us about their personal lives and the importance of going to college,” she said.

Hergins added, “I loved the professors. They were really nice.”

One in particular stood out for Wright. It was the dynamic Bennyce Hamilton, director of multicultural affairs. “She woke us up!” Wright said.

They all saw the benefits of preparing now for college in the future.

“It taught us how to manage time and get everything done,” Hergins said. “I’m definitely excited about going to college.”

College faculty and staff instructed and led as the students spent five nights in a residence hall, ate in the student dining hall and participated in both in-class and extracurricular activities, the latter of which included the aforementioned rafting trip.

Also, a number of WC students served as camp counselors.

ACCESS leader Ken Lydy, associate vice president for student affairs, said the students, in essence, had a chance to experience college firsthand before they even submit an application to a college or university.

“They had an opportunity to not only gain college preparatory skills, but also immerse themselves in a real college experience,” he said.

Part of the curriculum was exploring potential careers and gaining insight into the ACT test.

Parents also have a role in the program, as they learned about the college search process (timeline, forms and financial aid). Culminating the week will be a Friday luncheon at which parents gained insight into what their children learned. Ideally, the students emerged from the week with a better understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement.