CollegeFirst
An Advanced Placement tutoring and mentoring initiative

Summary: CollegeFirst provides a three-week, Summer Advanced Placement Institute for high-school students in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, hosted on campus at The University of Alabama and UAB.  Using research-based approaches and models of effective practice, CollegeFirst ensures that students enrolled in AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP English Language have access to high-quality learning opportunities during the summer. CollegeFirst provides three weeks of high-quality academic programming, including instruction from experienced AP teachers and skilled college student mentors, to help prepare young people to excel in AP courses.  Optional afternoon activities include financial aid and scholarship workshops, a UA campus tour, and presentations from the Honors College and other campus programs or organizations.

Accomplishments: During the seventh annual Summer Advanced Placement Institute (held in June 2016), 37 trained college students provided academic instruction in chemistry, biology, pre-calculus, computer science, and English to 127 high school students from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

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Why AP?  U.S. education levels continue to fall in international rankings, leading to an erosion of American competitiveness in the global economy. And our home state of Alabama consistently ranks below the national average in math and science achievement. All young people—especially those from low-income communities—experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. This low-income “summer slide” contributes to a widening of the achievement gap over time.

Advanced Placement courses allow motivated students to take college-level classes taught in their local high schools by talented and dedicated AP teachers. AP courses culminate in a suite of college-level assessments developed and scored by college and university faculty, as well as experienced AP teachers.

Students passing AP exams are three times more likely to earn a college degree than students who do not pass them, while six-year college graduation rates rise from 15 percent for African-American and Hispanic students to 60 percent or higher if they have passed at least one AP exam. Plus, students enrolled in AP courses are internationally competitive.

Collaboration: The University of Alabama is a leading campus for CollegeFirst volunteers.  CollegeFirst is a signature program of Impact Alabama: A Student Service Initiative, Alabama’s first nonprofit dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects in coordination with more than twenty universities and colleges throughout the state.

Impact Alabama is housed and supported by the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility at The University of Alabama.

For more information:  Contact Jessica Lovett at jessica.e.lovett@ua.edu or (205) 348-6495.

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