Senior-Year Plan aims for college applications from 100 percent of GEAR UP/STAR grads

“Financial Aid Girl” and “College App Guy” mascots
generate student interest at Mathis ISD

May 2012

Classroom lessons, a smartphone app, a senior-year checklist, monthly application instructions, and mascot costumes are just some of the tools being used in a pilot program to ensure that graduating GEAR UP/STAR seniors apply to college.

Six GEAR UP/STAR high schools in the Corpus Christi area are participating in the STAR Senior-Year Plan (SSYP), a pilot project aimed at getting 100 percent of GEAR UP/STAR seniors to apply to college and complete financial aid requests.  Participating schools are in Alice ISD, Brooks County ISD, Corpus Christi ISD, Kingsville ISD, Mathis ISD, and Odem-Edroy ISD.

Own Your Own Future web site

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal initiative managed by the Texas Education Agency to increase early college awareness and readiness in traditionally underrepresented groups in Texas middle schools and high schools.  The STAR Project, a component of GEAR UP, is a P-16 initiative in the South Texas Gulf Coast area in coordination with the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Pre-College Outreach Center.

Because the college admission and financial aid process can be confusing, GEAR UP/STAR provides a library of multimedia resources, handouts, and classroom lessons for use by students, parents, teachers, and counselors in navigating the process.  The resource library is available through GEAR UP/STAR’s Own Your Own Future (OYOF) web site, www.ownyourownfuture.com.

The STAR Senior-Year Plan (SSYP) provides monthly instructions to students and their parents, telling them which parts of the college admission process they should complete that month.  Using the OYOF resource library as its central offering, the plan also provides a wide range of materials to schools for helping students in their college applications, including:

  • College readiness information, portable kiosks, classroom modules, and college application and financial aid mascot costumes to engage students in the application process
  • The OYOF smartphone app (available for iPhone and Droid), which includes quick links to videos, information, and quizzes related to SSYP monthly themes
  • A senior-year checklist that helps students document their progress toward their application goals and focus their efforts on next steps
  • Customized tools requested by individual schools

The resources were designed to be used in conjunction with college-prep efforts already in place at the participating schools.  The resources were also designed to be reusable and expandable in the future.

Once the pilot is complete, project staff will make the SSYP modules and resources available to schools statewide.

For more information about the STAR Senior-Year Plan, please contact Kristen Reynolds, State Project Director for Texas GEAR UP, Texas Education Agency, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701, (512) 463-8254, kristen.reynolds@tea.state.tx.us.

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