CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A number of counties in West Virginia that have traditionally had low going-to-college rates are starting to see an increase, according to state Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill.
“Those 10 low-performing counties have now moved up to the state average,” Hill told MetroNews Wednesday. “We’ve moved them several points and we’re getting more and more students who are saying, ‘Yes, I can do that,'” Hill said.
Hill and the Higher Education Policy Commission had a Gear Up event Wednesday at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston for approximately 1,400 10th graders.
Gear Up is a program operated by the HEPC that makes resources available to students and parents concerning college or other post-high school choices.
Many times the students’ parents didn’t attend college and need a little help, Hill said.
“Students find difficulty just knowing what they need to do and when they need to do it and the Gear Up program is there just to give them a helping hand,” Hill said.
Sophomores from Boone, Fayette, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming counties heard from Molly Kennedy, a nationally known youth motivational and resilience speaker at Wednesday’s event.
A federal grant finances the Gear Up program. Hill said the state has received another round of funding to continue it. He said West Virginia’s program is being used as a national model.
In the past few years Gear Up has sponsored a number of events including career and summer academies.