The Game Changers: HNU Starts Early Admit Program with College Mentors

This past fall HNU launched a program to change the lives of high school students in the East Bay. The Early Admit Program (EAP) is unique in providing college access to students from Oakland and West Contra Costa school districts, as well as selected Oakland Catholic high schools.

Rooted in the Mission of the University which seeks to provide access to higher education for students from underserved communities, this program provides a framework to encourage more students to graduate from high school and attend college. By reaching out to local high schools, HNU is helping to further a college-going culture and improve high school graduation rates.

Through EAP, high school students are admitted to HNU as 9th graders with a guaranteed minimum scholarship. These students are given a contract and guidance on the academic preparation needed to maintain their admission and what they can do to increase their scholarship amount. If they have fulfilled the academic requirements at the end of their four years of high school, they are guaranteed a spot in HNU’s freshman class, or they may choose to attend another university. The academic contract is structured so that the students will be eligible for the University of California or California State systems as well as many private universities.

President Hynes explains, “While maintaining our admissions’ standards, we wanted to eliminate the significant obstacles that exist between urban students and their ability to go to college. In a family where neither parent may have gone to college, there is often no known path of how their son or daughter can get to college, let alone pay for it. EAP changes this landscape and opens a path to high school students, showing them a way to get into an affordable college. Now they have a specific set of goals. Achieve these goals and you can enter HNU with a scholarship. Even though EAP students are not obligated to come to HNU, we believe that because ‘to know us is to love us,’ it is likely that many will come to HNU. In every case, however, the game will have been changed.”

Hynes continues, “Because Holy Names University has been breaking down such obstacles in Oakland since 1868 – first for women, then for men, and now for a very diverse student body – HNU has experience in these matters. That is why half of our students are the first generation in their families to go to college, and why Holy Names consistently ranks among the top five small universities in the West for diversity.”

Brian O’Rourke, Dean of Admissions and Recruitment, states, “The perfect environment for this type of radical initiative existed here at HNU and we wanted to take advantage to help our community. President Hynes came to me with a vision to simplify the college application process for 12th grade students from urban schools; as we began to put that together, an even larger initiative took shape, starting with the 9th grade.”

O’Rourke adds, “EAP is a true testament to the belief in the HNU Mission by the entire university community. As Oakland’s premier coed university, we have a responsibility to promote a K-16 educational model. Not nearly enough students from urban centers go on to four-year colleges and I’m proud to say that HNU is doing its part to reverse that trend. We hope that other universities will follow our path.”

Tammy Dain (HNU ’09), Assistant Director of Community Outreach in the Office of Admissions, oversees the daily operation of EAP. Dain explains, “The goal is to change students’ perceptions, to have the students know that someone believes in their potential and that college can become a reality. Then we provide mentoring and academic support over their four years of high school to keep them on track.”

The EAP mentors are current HNU students, most of whom come from the partner high schools. Michelle Gomez, an HNU sophomore Psychology major is a mentor in West Contra Costa. She said, “When I was in school, we didn’t have a program like this. This program gives students something to strive for and an attainable goal. Students aren’t going to high school just to graduate from high school anymore. Students are going to school now to graduate and then go on to college.”

Maria Martinez, a 9th grader at West County Community High School in Richmond, one of the students working with Michelle, said, “I joined because it’s a great opportunity and no other college offers a program like this. I especially like that there is tutoring and I feel encouraged to get good grades.”

Nicole Taylor, CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, said, “This HNU program opens a new door for youth in our urban centers to get a college education and to gain the increased economic opportunity that goes along with it. We think it’s going to be a game changer.”

If the East Bay could increase the graduation rate across-the-board from pre-school through college, it is estimated that this talent force would add 20 billion dollars to the local economy. EAP is a first step toward this goal.

EAP Program Features

  • Students who meet the minimum requirements for the program are guaranteed a minimum scholarship in the amount of $9,000.
  • Students who exceed the minimum GPA criteria may qualify for additional scholarship assistance money.
  • Students who demonstrate significant financial need may also qualify for additional tuition assistance grant money.

The goal is that most or all of the cost of the tuition will be covered by a combination of HNU, state and federal gift aid assistance that students will likely qualify for.

From the Winter/Spring 2012 edition of HNU Today Magazine.

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