Getting the Word Out
Preparing For and Choosing Whether to go to College: All Youth Should Have the Option
- The Closing the Opportunity Gap (CoG) Project is a multipronged effort spearheaded by the Borderlands Center for Educational Studies (BoCES) in partnership with the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction and Chemistry/Biochemistry at NMSU.
- Serving as Co-PIs are Dr. Antonio Lara from the Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry and Drs. Rudolfo Chávez Chávez and Hermán García, both from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I).
- The CoG builds on recent successful efforts of BoCES and weaves together several empirically tested best practices as the foundation for an intensive outreach effort that exposes historically underserved middle school students to NMSU student Role Models/Leaders and the campus itself.
- Research has demonstrated that the middle school level is critical because Latino students who enter 9th grade with a plan for any type of formal education beyond high school (and thus the purpose of their high school work is clear) are far more likely to finish not only high school but college as well. Additional research has demonstrated that role-rehearsing is an important element in “getting ready” to go to college and in persisting because it assists individuals in negotiating the physical, social, and cognitive/academic geographies of college campuses.
- Within this model, the campus tour is more than merely a marketing strategy because it orients K-12 students to the university experience by beginning to develop their cognitive maps of the physical geography and their social maps through the contacts with university students and staff.
- In line with these and other best practices, (18) undergraduate and graduate students have participated as Role Models/Leaders in the last two years. During this time they worked with (240) 8th grade students from Camino Real Middle School.
- All of the models completed a four part train-the-trainer workshop model with Dr. Valverde that prepared them to build relationships with the 8th grade students.
- Following their training, the CoG Role Models/Leaders visited Camino Real multiple times and facilitated discussions about career and college options and the importance of high school preparation.
- After the visits to Camino Real, the middle school students spent a day at NMSU exploring key academic, social, and administrative spaces.
- Following this, the Role Models/Leaders facilitated one final visit at Camino Real where they tied the CoG project into other high school planning and career exploration efforts occurring at the school.
- Quantitative and qualitative data are collected every year and lessons learned are documented and shared with NMSU leaders. The hope is to help create a more effective educational pipeline for historicaly underserved students.