Science and Tech Students Test Life on a College Campus

Forty students  got a taste of college life over the summer at the UT Dallas College Readiness Initiative (CRI).

The CRI program hosted high school students from the Energized for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy in Houston in June. Two groups from the academy each spent two weeks on the UT Dallas campus, where the activities centered on STEM topics.

Dr. George Fair

“I think it went very well,” said Dr. George Fair, the dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and creator of CRI.  “I think it was very successful in that these students for the most part had never been on a college campus to any extent.”

The program gives the students the opportunity to realize their potential and explore opportunities that are available in college. Activities included visiting the science, engineering and technology teaching facilities. The students broke up into groups to work on inventions related to environmental issues, and took part in a robotics workshop.

“Having a hands-on approach where they actually are able to build robots and do different activities with them was very interesting for them,” Fair said.

College students from UT Dallas Academic Bridge program mentored the STEM Academy students and facilitated workshops pertaining to financial aid and college admissions.

Most of the students who participated are between their freshman and sophomore years. They received daily instruction related to SAT exam preparation. There was an improvement in the students’ scores by the time they took the SAT exam at the end of the camp, said Jackie Long, an Academic Bridge program project supervisor.

“For us to see them improve, that lets us know the program is successful even if it’s a moderate couple of points increase,” Long said.

In a program evaluation filled out at the end of CRI program, one student wrote about the rigor and value of the daily SAT instruction.

“SAT class was honestly a bit challenging,” the participant wrote. “Our school has had SAT classes, but it was nothing like the class at UT Dallas. Our SAT teachers taught us many things – from new vocabulary to complex mathematics formulas. I learned that you can do anything you put your mind to no matter the challenge.”

For many of the students, this was their first opportunity to explore a college campus and get a firsthand look at college life. The students stayed in the campus apartments. For several of the students, this was their first time away from home, Fair said.

“It not only gives an educational experience, but gives them a maturing experience because they are really responsible for themselves to get up, get to breakfast and be a part of a team that does some things together,” Fair said.

Fair said the CRI program was offered at an important time during the students’ high school careers when they start making preparations for college.

“I would just like to say that we have opened some doors for them and they can take advantage of the opportunity they had here,” he said.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].