Pontiac high school students visit OU for GEAR UP College Days

Pontiac high school students visit OU for GEAR UP College Days
GEAR UP College Day
Pontiac High School 11th-graders are pictured with OU mascot "the Grizz" during one of two GEAR UP College Days held on campus this week.

Over the past two days, students from Pontiac-based high schools gathered at Oakland University for GEAR UP College Day experiences. The 143 11th-graders from Pontiac High School and International Technology Academy learned about campus resources from staff members of OU’s Pre-College Programs, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Center for Multicultural Initiatives. 


The students also filled out applications to Oakland and will receive an admissions decision as early as mid-fall of their senior year of high school.


“One of our goals is to make sure that students from Pontiac know that OU is an option for college,” said Tiffany Elliott, assistant director of Pre-College Programs. “What better way to do that than to have them on campus to fill out an early application to Oakland?”


The students are part of OU’s GEAR UP program, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The initiative provides mentoring for students starting in 7th grade and lasting through their first year of college.


OU GEAR UP program mentor La’Asia Johnson, who guided the students on a tour of campus, said that GEAR UP is a valuable opportunity to build relationships with students and show them that a college education is within reach. A native of Flint, Johnson went through the GEAR UP program herself and graduated from OU last month. She seeks to be an example to current GEAR UP students.


“For me, the most important thing is being able to show them that GEAR UP actually works,” she said. “I’m not just telling them what they need to do to be successful. I’m a living, breathing example that what they’re striving for is possible.”


Pontiac High School student Ali’Janae Smith said she has been visiting OU throughout her GEAR UP experience and enjoys being on campus.


“It’s a very open and safe environment,” said Smith, who said she plans to major in pre-medicine in college. “All the mentors treat us like family.”


She added that the day served as a good overview of the resources available to underrepresented students.


“It was really helpful,” she said. “I learned a lot about student programs and different scholarships that Oakland offers to minorities.”


Learn more about OU Pre-College Programs at oakland.edu/precollege.