Area youth set to look at future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

For the average sixth- or seventh- grader, the high school years seem far into the future, adulthood nothing more than a mere blip on the horizon.

But one local program aims to bring the future into better focus. The Early Awareness Program encourages Ironton middle and junior high school students to not only think about the future, but plan for it — now.

An offspring of the Gear Up program, this year the Early Awareness Program (EAP) got a $25,000 Best Practices grant from the Ohio College Access Network to fund its endeavors.

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The focus is on making sixth, seventh and eight graders aware that college is within their grasp, even if they are not straight-A students, even if they can’t afford college, even if their parents did not go to college.

“It’s not too early to start thinking about what you want to do and what they can do to make it happen,” Malone said.

“The more familiar we can make students with college campuses and college life, this creates a comfort zone for the student. Instead of it being an imposing place, we want the students to come here and think ‘I could come here.’”

Students get information about financial aid and scholarships,

what the various college and universities have to offer, information on how to apply for acceptance at the college of their choice.

They also get an education in things that can help them right now: how to study, good note taking, setting effective goals and prioritizing.

“I tell them that my ultimate goal is for them to succeed,” Malone said.

Although EAP is only available to Ironton students at this time, Malone said students at other schools have expressed an interest in having access to such a program.

When EAP participated in a college fair at OUS earlier this year, students from other schools approached Malone about help. She would like to someday be able to branch out to all the county’s school districts, offering them the same assistance the Ironton students now receive.