UC Merced gives high school students extra help for college applications

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- High school seniors across the Valley and state are working to get their UC applications in by the November 30 deadline. Though the application process can be an expensive and trying time, the college is making sure high school students are able to succeed.

As the clock winds down to the UC application deadline, high school seniors are putting on the finishing touches. Over the past few weeks, UC chancellors statewide have met with thousands of high school students and their families to urge them to aim for a University of California education; it's something they call "Achieve UC."

"I hope that they're really exploring and tapping into the resources we have available," vice chancellor Charles Nies said.

UC Merced is building for the future in more ways than one.

"In four years, that campus is going to have doubled in size and the students coming in fall of 2017 will be able to be a part of that planning and that growth," Nies said.

More than 90 first-generation and low-income high school seniors were invited to campus and learned their possibilities are endless. Seniors from Dinuba, Parlier, Tranquility and Farmersville participated in a number of workshops highlighting the UC system and even helping them finish their application.

"Back in 2005, only three percent of all the campuses to University of California came from the Central Valley," Nies explained. "Last year, that was up to seven percent."

In addition to getting a look at what campus life is like students worked one on one with advisors for financial aid and personal statement help.

"It's helping me learn more about colleges and see which ones I want to go to," Dinuba High School senior Katelyn Ortega said.

"I thought college wasn't for me," Farmersville High School senior Jose Chavez said. "I mean, my parents don't make enough money. We come from a background where people aren't expected to go to college and once I came to these programs I saw that college was attainable."

Chavez said it's important to have an open mind when attending events like this. The high school senior is applying to four UC campuses including Merced, and he already has his mind set on earning his master's degree.

"Going to college and coming back and being service to my community will speak volumes and will show people that everyone has an opportunity to go to college," he said.

Chavez said he'll now not only survive his college years, he'll thrive.
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