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Upward Bound program assists less advantaged students

Cutline:  Erin McCoy leads NOC’s Upward Bound program

ENID, Okla. — Upward Bound academy at Northern Oklahoma College helps hard working, but less advantaged Enid-area students attain the grades, the vision and the money they need to achieve a higher education.

The federally funded program serves 62 high school students, grades 9-12, per year, and offers one-on-one tutoring, ACT test prep, academic advising, college tours and trips, and a five-week summer program covering a host of subjects like math, science and English at an advanced level. The program is free to students.

Upward Bound is looking for students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 GPA, who meet the federal definition of low-income and who would be the first in their families to attain a four-year degree or higher.

“The whole reason we exist is to make these kids be great high school students with great grades and great ACT scores … and find them all the money they need for college, whatever college they choose to attend, and get them in there,” Upward Bound director Erin McCoy said.

Most kids eligible for Upward Bound are studious, but despite that are still at risk of “slipping through the cracks,” when it comes to getting a college degree, McCoy said.

Poverty often is a reason why, she said, or lack of support at home, or “the feeling that, ‘There’s no way I can afford (college), so why do I even bother looking at it?'”

This year, 17 high school seniors are graduating from the program and heading to schools including the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College, McCoy said.

The majority of Upward Bound students head to NOC after graduating high school, but academic adviser Kimberly Beagle works with students to find the best college for their desired degree and the scholarships and financial help they need to get there.

Each year, Beagle secures “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to help make college financially feasible for Upward Bound students.

Since Upward Bound members are all first-generation college-bound kids, the program also prepares them for some of paperwork hoops and hurdles they will encounter.

“We help them walk through the whole process. We’ll walk them over to registration, talk to them about what a bursar is. We can help them enroll for their first fall semester,” she said.

Beagle said former students well into their college careers sometimes will reach out to her for help, and she’s happy to answer.

A proper education calls for more than academics alone, according to McCoy, so Upward Bound has more than academics to offer.

“We go on fun trips during the year. We got to a Thunder game, we got to Oklahoma City Broadway shows, we explore cities, we do campus tours, so we do expand their vision,” she said, new experiences broaden the mind.

The Upward Bound application process can be started online at Upward Bound accepts applications from Enid, Waukomis, Pioneer and Kremlin-Hillsdale high school students.