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ASCC GEAR UP holds College Night

On Monday, December 6th, the GEAR UP program, hosted by the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), welcomed over 150 people to the third Parent, Student and Teacher College Night event for the Fall 2011 Semester. The GEAR UP College Night, held at the ASCC Lecture Hall, featured three presentations of special interest to high school seniors who will graduate in June 2012.

In his welcoming remarks, GEAR UP Director Tupua Roy Fua highlighted the urgent need for all graduating seniors to get serious, pay more attention to their studies, and prepare for their transition to college. “The GEAR UP program’s primary mission for the last five years has been to prepare you for college,” said Tupua. “You are your family’s future; and they depend on you to complete a good education and become a person they can be proud of.  You must get serious, work smart and study hard.”

GEAR UP Math Instructor Mr. Anthony Felise introduced the evening’s first presenters, ASCC Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Chapter President Sophia A’asa and Vice President Gemmir Luardo, who shared information about the PTK organization, its mission, and benefits PTK students are entitled to when they accept the rigorous academic, community service and leadership challenge. Specifically, all PTK students are offered scholarships and invitations to continue their college education to over 600 colleges and universities across the U.S. which are chartered PTK affiliates.

Next, GEAR UP Instructors announced information and important dates for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which graduating seniors must take if they intend to go to college.  Felise and English Instructor/Counselor Lori Baker provided information needed for the next testing date, which is January 28, 2012. Ms Baker explained that an SAT fee waiver worth $49.00 is available at the GEAR UP Office for students who sign up for the exam. As of December, GEAR UP has issued 225 SAT test waivers to GEAR UP students.

Ms. Baker also urged all students not registered for Federal Financial Aid to come to the GEAR UP Office for assistance, and reminded them that late registration will only delay receiving financial assistance. Ms. Baker and Director Tupua emphasized that college scholarships are available, but students themselves must initiate and prepare scholarship applications. “The GEAR UP Office staff is available to assist and serve as a resource, though students must not wait until the last minute,” said Ms. Baker. “Make an appointment and come in after school to start the process.”

For the final presentation, which Tupua described as “quite the eye opener for all who attended,” the GEAR UP staff shared the test results of the GUAS College Practice Placement Exam taken by approximately 700 GEAR UP Seniors this past October. Test results were broken down by cohort high schools, and overall showed a large percentage of students testing below average. Math results showed higher scores then the English results, and the four private schools showed higher scores compared to the DOE schools.  Felise and Baker both stressed that the key responsibility sits with the students. “Too often, students don’t take the SAT, ACT, ASVAB or College Placement Exams seriously, while the fact of the matter is these exams impact the path you take in life,” stated Tupua.  

To underscore the importance of students making adequate preparations for their college placement tests, Tupua presented data from ASCC. “Just last semester, 95-97% of new freshmen college applicants took the ASCC College Placement Exam and were placed in remedial Math and English,” he pointed out. “Therefore, we cannot overstate the urgency of high school students getting serious with their studies and making better preparations for the SAT, ACT, ASVAB and College Placement Exams.”

GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. GEAR UP American Samoa or GUAS is headquartered on the ASCC campus and can be reached at 699-9166.

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