College Experience Lays Firm Foundation for GUB Students

In June 2018, the Red Mountain Writing Project of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) hosted a cohort of GEAR UP Birmingham (GUB) students in a credit-bearing, dual-enrollment course themed, “The College Experience.” The GEAR UP College Experience Course provided GUB students with a unique opportunity to experience college on campus in the traditional face-to-face environment as well as online through a series of lessons that required interaction, direction and feedback. The class met seven times face-to-face and online over the course of four weeks. During this time, students focused on navigating the online course environment, time management and college writing skills.

A total of eight students met the hybrid challenge of dual-enrollment and experienced UAB in a number of ways. Students were given ID badges and had access to campus dinning, computer labs, campus libraries and the student recreational center. They experienced campus tours and presentations by various student groups/college athletes that detailed personal experiences of college involvement. Additional topics covered included note taking, test-taking tips, diversity and so much more.  

Another highlight of the camp was career day. Presenters included Dr. Whitney McNeil Turner, emergency physician of UAB Highlands Emergency Department; Chandra Sparks Splond, author/blogger/editor/speaker; Dr. Anita C. Lee, physical therapist; and Ms. Tamera Carter, educator.  Through having a diverse set of presenters at career day, GUB students were able to obtain insight regarding the intricacies of various professions. Some of the information shared at career day included number of hours worked, recommended high school courses to prepare for said career, tips for successfully passing the MCAT admissions test and tips for writing success. 

Dr. Sharonica Nelson, program coordinator of the Red Mountain Writing Project and visiting assistant professor of Secondary Education, English Language Arts at UAB, expressed much admiration for the students who participated in the college experience course. “I am thrilled that we were able to provide this invaluable opportunity to GUB students. As a high school student, I also participated in dual enrollment courses by the advice of one of my teachers. The experience helped prepare me for college success and allowed me to enter college with credits towards my degree. It is my hope that this experience has that same profound effect on the GUB students we’ve served,” said Dr. Nelson.  

Red Mountain Writing Project has already begun preparing to host another cohort of students for the summer of 2019. The goal is to improve the course, provide even more college preparation experiences and enroll more students next year.

The Red Mountain Writing Project (RMWP) is a local affiliate of the National Writing Project, whose motto is “teachers teaching teachers” and whose mission is to provide a forum for teachers of all grade levels and in all content areas to study and develop new and innovative strategies for literacy instruction.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a public research university located in Birmingham, Alabama. Students from all over the world attend UAB in order to pursue studies in 140 programs of study in 12 academic divisions leading to bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in the social and behavioral sciences, the liberal arts, business, education, engineering and health-related fields such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, nursing and public health.

Author: Dr. Marsha Savage 

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