José Cardenas: ASU future Sun Devil families is a new program to help high school students and their families prepare for success at the university. Although the program is open to families of all Arizona high school students, it is aimed at families with first-generation college-bound students. We will talk a guest about the program in a moment, but first here is a short video promoting the upcoming program. Joining me to talk more about this program is Beatriz Rendón, associate vice president of educational outreach and student services at ASU. Beatriz, welcome to "Horizonte."
Beatriz Rendon: Thank you.
José Cardenas: Quite a snappy video. This is a first year that you are doing this. Give us a kind of an overview of the program.
Beatriz Rendon: Sure. So future Sun Devil families is part of the access programming efforts out of the office of educational outreach and student services and we are primarily targeting high school students and specifically this fall it will be high school ninth graders and some target districts that have traditionally been underrepresented at Arizona State University. What we plan on doing about these students and their families is basically giving them, through a series of seven workshops that they will attend throughout the course of the year, lots of information on college preparedness, on financial aid, on -- effectively making sure they are on course to not just be eligible to attend our University, but also be accepted and successful once there.
José Cardenas: And can you give us a little sense of the demographics of your target districts.
Beatriz Rendon: Sure. Our target districts include Tolleson Union School District, Phoenix union school district, Glendale, Tempe, and Mesa unified school district.
José Cardenas: As I understand it, the pilot program is being conducted in Tolleson that started this year. How's it going?
Beatriz Rendon: So far it's been very well received. It's been a great pilot. We have about 250 families that are currently participating. And the family unit is consists of the one student and a parent that have been receiving the curriculum and the workshops. And they have found it to be extremely beneficial.
José Cardenas: How do kids get involved?
Beatriz Rendon: Simply go to your counselor or, I think we are going to show some information here later about how to get more information but so long as you have an average of 2.5 GPA in your English, math, science, and you attend one of the schools in these participating districts, along with actually our ASU preparatory academy so ASU has its own charter schools, you can participate in the program.
José Cardenas: And do they self-select or are you actively making efforts to solicit participation?
Beatriz Rendon: We are actively working with our district partners. And so we have worked with these districts with some of these districts for a while now on a variety of other programming efforts like the American Dream Academy, which works with immigration -- recent immigrant families, as well as the Hispanic mother-daughter program which works with some of our Hispanic female students and their mothers. And so we have worked with these districts already on some of these efforts and Future Sun Devil Families is a way to really broaden the scope and the service that is family-centered and addresses both students and their parents to ensure that they are going to make it to our universities.
José Cardenas: Give us a sense of what someone new to the program would be doing in this first year.
Beatriz Rendon: Sure.
José Cardenas: As I understand it they can come back for their other years in high school.
Beatriz Rendon: That's correct. Initially we are starting with ninth grade and we will be growing a grade every year. The ultimate goal is to have approximately about 7,000 students participating in any -- students and their family participating in any number of the schools that were involved in. But effectively some of college preparedness workshops include, for example, what courses to take in high school, what you should be doing relative to community service, what you should be doing with your summers, how to be engaged so that you are a strong college applicant to our University. Also the test that you need to take, whether it be the SAT or the ACT as well as how to write, how to write a personal essay. There's any number of sort of college preparedness type of workshops and levels of information that they will be receiving. So that he ensure their strong right out the gate.
José Cardenas: So let's say I am in the program. I am a freshman and I get all that information my first year. What do I get the second year?
Beatriz Rendon: We are currently still developing the curriculum. Sole continue to augment that. Some of the content will, there's only so much you can cover in a workshop series so we might go more in depth in some of those areas. I imagine at the point that students start applying for financial aid, it's something we have talked about for a long time but maybe we start to migrate more to helping them actually complete some of that information. Or also giving them any other information on other scholarship opportunities that might exist outside of just Federal assistance.
José Cardenas: And as I understand it, some of the workshops which involve both the students and the parent at same time, others you would separate them?
Beatriz Rendon: Yes.
José Cardenas: What would you be telling the parents?
Beatriz Rendon: Well, to the parents, I think it's most important to really help build their level of awareness on how to best advocate for your child, how to know that your child is on track to attend a four-year University. We are working with our partner districts and in partnership with quite frankly our high schools in Arizona are really quite large. And there aren't sufficient counselors to really go in depth with every single student on the campus. You sometimes have a situation where you have 1,000 students assigned to one counselor. So we like to think we are partners with our districts and ensuring that students are getting the information. And in their ninth grade year and every year thereafter so they will be on track when they get going to. If you get behind in that ninth grade year it's really hard to catch up throughout the rest of your high school program. Our requirement to get into the University includes, for example, two years of a foreign language. Well, many students don't necessarily always take that. They might think they have taken it one year and that's it. And if they find that out in their senior year it might be too late.
José Cardenas: Too late… Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about future Sun Devil families.
Beatriz Rendon: Absolutely. My pleasure.