NAU GEAR UP: Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs

About us

NAU GEAR UP  is an innovative college access program that works.

The numbers tell the story: 75% of Gear Up students graduate high school and go onto college – a number that is more than double the Arizona average.

Created in 1999 through a federal grant, GEAR UP is aimed specifically at students from low-income communities statewide. Because of GEAR UP's track record of success, the grant was renewed in 2012; NAU GEAR UP is in the second year of the seven-year grant cycle. 

NAU GEAR UP is successful because it is unique. It differs from other college access programs by:

  • Catching the attention of students early in their academic lives, starting in 7th grade.
  • Raising the academic aspiration of an entire group (cohort) of students. Rather than working just with individuals at the disparate locations, we work with an entire grade level at a school. The group learns to dream together, cultivating the motivation, knowledge and skills needed to succeed along the pathway to college.
  • Keeping these groups of children together all the way through high school.
  • Working with parents to alleviate fears and elevate expectations.
  • Enlisting the support of parents, teachers, guidance counselors, school administrators and community groups.
Scroll down to learn more about NAU GEAR UP.

History

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GEAR UP is a federally-funded college-access program started in 1999, authorized under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), now in 47 states. The purpose of GEAR UP is to significantly increase the number of students from low-income communities who graduate from high school prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

 Project Components

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The design of NAU GEAR UP 2012-19 includes three project components:

  1.  In-School Partnerships, serving 4,000 students in 30 rural schools in six AZ counties;
  2. Middle Grade Initiative, impacting 200+ schools / 40,000+ students statewide; and
  3. Local and State Collaborations, advancing broader and shared aims with multiple entities.

Additionally, NAU GEAR UP 2012-19 embraces the importance of evaluation and research through an Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness, and is a member of the multi-state GEAR UP College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium. 

Because the GEAR UP cohort approach ensures that all students in particular grades are served, the program is a natural vehicle for systemic change.

Benefits of GEAR UP

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The first and most important benefit of NAU GEAR UP is:  it works.

In 2012, GEAR UP students – who had been in the program for five years – graduated from high school at a rate of 83%, nearly three times the state average. 72% of these students are verified to have enrolled in college in the fall.

The success of these NAU GEAR UP students is the result of a broad range of intervention and enrichment activities. Benefits of the program include:

 

Improved attendance

 

GEAR UP Site Directors examine why students miss class and then implement programs - proactive and reactive - to encourage students to attend their classes. Creating interventions that address the reasons for absenteeism is the key to solving the problem.

 

Better grades

 

Through tutoring, mentoring, improved attendance, academic enrichment activities, and the encouragement and inspiration they receive from their Site Directors, GEAR UP students do better in school, and their grades reflect this. Between the first and third years of the Program, the percentage of NAU GEAR UP students achieving grades of B or better in mathematics and language arts increased.

 

Higher expectations

 

A fundamental GEAR UP premise is that children will live up to, or down to, the expectations that are held for them. GEAR UP sponsors training for site staff, faculty and administration, parents, and mentors on the Power of High Expectations.

As a result, GEAR UP students regularly and consistently hear that they will graduate from high school, are capable of succeeding in college, and that they have the support they need to do both. Because parents and students alike are provided information about the cost of college and the availability of financial aid and scholarships, they learn that money does not have to be a barrier to post secondary education.

 

Higher enrollment in college prerequisite courses

 

Through one-on-one academic counseling, GEAR UP Site Directors ensure that students are enrolling and succeeding in classes required for college admission (classes which are often more advanced than those required for high school graduation).

 

Increased scores on standardized tests

 

Through tutoring, mentoring, improved attendance, academic enrichment activities, and the encouragement and inspiration they receive from their Site Directors, GEAR UP students often do better on standardized tests like the AIMS.

 

Enhanced knowledge of the value and cost of college

 

GEAR UP-sponsored Financial Aid and College Preparation workshops, one-on-one counseling and numerous written communiqués to parents (in English and Spanish) give parents and students a more realistic picture of how much college will cost and how much financial aid is available. Assistance in finding and applying for scholarships provides concrete financial assistance. Job shadowing and career workshops let students experience first-hand the kinds of careers that will be available to them if they succeed in college.

 

Increased High School Graduation Rates

 

With improved attendance and grades, inspired and encouraged by mentors and their Site Directors, and motivated by the expectation of going to college and the possibility of a rewarding career, the drop out rate among GEAR UP students is lower than the drop out rate of comparable non-GEAR UP students.

 

Outcomes/Evidence of success

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  • Class of 2006:
    • 82 percent graduation rate (67 percent for state)
    • 75 percent college-going rate* (31 percent for state)
     
  • Class of 2009
    • 95 percent graduation rate
    • 69 percent college-going rate*
     
  • Class of 2010
    • 94 percent graduation rate
    • 81 percent college-going rate*
     
  • Class of 2011
    • 82 percent graduation rate
     

*Each student’s actual attendance in college was verified in the fall of the year they graduated.

Contact us

State GEAR UP Office:

Arizona GEAR UP
15451 N. 28th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85053

Phone: (602) 776-4616

Fax: (602) 776-4619

Email: gear.up@nau.edu