October 20, 1997
Volume 50, No. 9
As anyone who's filled out a grant application, applied for funds or embarked on a new field of study can attest, it can sometimes take more than ability to get into an academic program. Recognizing the complexity of getting into college and the energy and commitment required to stay there, a program at Emory offers talented high school students the means to learn about the college experience and a lot of nitty-gritty know-how.
Emory's Preparatory Research and Education Program (PREP) is designed to assist African-American students in pursing careers in math and science. The ongoing program, directed at students in Atlanta public schools, has been in place since 1989 and has been highly effective in helping students get into and, more importantly, stay in college, said Nagueyalti Warren, Emory College assistant dean.
"For many of the students we work with, they are the first in their families to go to college. They might not even have considered going to college," said Warren, who has headed the program since its inception. "These are good students, many with B averages and natural ability in math and science, but not necessarily the ones who would attend college fairs or seek out the school counselors."
The program is designed to assist high school juniors. Emory faculty and students work with students recommended by staff and counselors at area high schools. The students are interviewed and take the ACT and other college entrance exams. Students who participate in the program take part in a six-week summer residency program at Emory during which they take classes, learn about campus life and spend time in one-on-one sessions with faculty and student mentors.
When the students return to school for their senior year, PREP staff follow up with them to see where they've applied to college, to assist in financial aid and scholarship applications, and to offer tutoring and support. Although a large percentage of the students apply to Emory, a number have been accepted at other colleges and universities including Georgia Tech, Stanford and Harvard.
The PREP program is funded through grants from the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation and the Pew Foundation. About 15 Emory faculty and staff are involved in the program, representing the math/computer science, chemistry and biology departments.
Although the program is designed to encourage study of math and science, Warren said there's no guarantee that will happen. "One student we worked with was naturally brilliant in science. He came to Emory and took a creative writing course, and he fell in love with it and changed his major to English!" However, students who go through the PREP program and enroll in math and the sciences at Emory have an incentive to stick with it: if they graduate with a degree in those fields, they are eligible for a retroactive scholarship.
-Rebecca Poynor Burns
Return to October 20, 1997 Contents Page