June 13, 2013
By Jamon Smith
More than 75 Tuscaloosa city and county high school students have been accepted into this year’s CollegeFirst program at the University of Alabama.
CollegeFirst is a three-week summer enrichment program that prepares upcoming juniors and seniors to take Advanced Placement classes — college-level courses — at their schools.
The program was created by the UA Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility.
“Research has shown that students who take AP classes in high school are much more successful in college,” said Sarah Louise Smith, program coordinator for the UA Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility. “AP can also help with the achievement gaps between different ethnicities. African-American and Hispanic students who take AP classes outperform their peers in college who don’t take AP classes.
“It’s also important because of summer slide,” she said. “Getting students involved in academic programs helps them mitigate the academic loss they would otherwise experience during the summer.”
Smith said the program focuses mainly on math and science but that it offers pre-AP biology, chemistry, calculus and English. She said program organizers choose to focus more on science and math because there’s a greater demand for jobs that require science and math skills.
The program, which started this week, is held from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday. In the morning, students attend a lecture and then break into groups based on subject.
“The science group goes into a college laboratory and conducts experiments,” Smith said. “The math group does math exercises and games, and the English group will participate in reading, writing and analysis of literary passages.”
Smith said this is the program’s fourth year. She said the vast majority of students who finish the program take AP courses when they return to school and say they feel more prepared for them.
The program is free and is sponsored by A+ College Ready, which is a statewide initiative that works to increase student enrollment in AP courses.