​Student leaders of the future get their start at Ohio State

College access initiative targets populations underrepresented on nation’s campuses

By: Emily Caldwell

Published on June 23, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new Ohio State University initiative designed to improve Ohioans’ access to higher education will equip high-school students with the skills and knowledge it takes to become a college student leader on campus and in the community.

The Buckeye Student Leadership Academy is an opportunity for high-achieving first-generation, rural and/or underrepresented minority students to experience an intensive taste of college life over 3 ½ days.

In addition to learning about the college admissions process, financial aid options and campus resources, the participants will attend personal development workshops on subjects ranging from budgeting to goal-setting and time management. They will live in residence halls, eat at campus dining facilities and interact with current students, faculty and staff at cultural and leadership activities during their stay.

All aspects of the program – instruction, housing, meals, activities, transportation and parking – are free for the 125 participants, who will be on the Columbus campus Monday through Thursday (June 26-29).

“The hope is to better prepare these students for the college application process,” said Keith Gehres, director of outreach and recruitment for the Office of Enrollment Services. “They will learn how to navigate applying to any college in the country – there is no obligation for them to apply to Ohio State.

“This initiative was created for the greater good of Ohioans.”

The Buckeye Student Leadership Academy aligns with Ohio State’s leadership in two national initiatives focused on college access: the American Talent Initiative, a collaboration of dozens of colleges and universities committed to increasing the number of talented low- and moderate-income students on college campuses, and the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a coalition of 11 public research universities committed to making quality college degrees accessible to a diverse body of students.

Academy organizers – representing the offices of Enrollment Services, Diversity and Inclusion, and Student Life – reached out to Ohio high schools to solicit nominations and applications for the pilot program. The competitive process itself provided good practice for the upcoming college application season: Applicants were required to submit essays, academic information and details about their extracurricular activities.

“These are students who have focused on academics and involvement already, at least to some extent, and those are important characteristics of most college applicants. We designed this initiative to expand their knowledge base about the expectations of college life, and to help them discover their own leadership style. These skills and experiences will serve them well no matter where they go to school,” Gehres said.

The inaugural Buckeye Student Leadership Academy is a pilot, but the university anticipates hosting the program annually. Though participation is not accompanied by a guarantee for admission to Ohio State’s Columbus campus, program leaders plan to maintain contact with the students during their senior year of high school and the university will waive their application fee if they do apply to Ohio State, he said.


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Emily Caldwell
614-292-8152 | Email

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