Scholars have sights set on college
high school students are sacrificing their weekends and getting
a jump on their futures in the Saturday Scholars Academy, a program
providing teenagers with academic enhancement classes specially
designed to help them prepare for the rigors of higher education.
The program has grown by more than 50 percent in the past four years
and there are several students on a waiting list, attesting to the
Academy's popularity. Eric Gravenberg, program founder and associate
vice president of student affairs, says being a Saturday Scholar
doesn't guarantee admission to CSUS or any other school. But he
says 100 percent of the Scholars from the spring 2002 session have
gone on to a college or university. And 64 percent of them are currently
attending the CSUS.
The students, all with personal or social obstacles to overcome,
attend specially designed math, English and critical thinking classes
several weekends each semester.
In order to attend the classes, they must fulfill several requirements.
Each student has to be enrolled in high school and hold at least
a 2.00 GPA. The teenagers and their parents need to complete applications
and undergo personal interviews. Most importantly, the students
need the drive, ambition and potential to eventually attend a four-year
university. The parents must commit the necessary time as well,
especially since some students come from communities all over Northern
California, including Dixon, Stockton and Vacaville.
The students do not receive letter grades for their Academy classes.
But the University faculty and staff provide thorough feedback.
Gravenberg says their high school teachers have positive reactions
to the students' progress. They comment how much more likely the
Saturday Scholars are to show enthusiasm and engage in classroom
discussions than other students. This behavior is often different
than what the student displayed before becoming joining the program.
Gravenberg says he knows students who completely changed. "They
were very shy and withdrawn. They've just blossomed."
It is this kind of individual growth the program is designed to
encourage, shaping effective leaders. Gravenberg says in the Saturday
Scholars classes, "Everyone wants to be smart, everyone wants
to achieve, and everyone wants to be a leader." For example,
a student might research problems and solutions involving overcrowding
in public schools. The student-researcher is then encouraged to
present his or her findings to a school district superintendent
or school board. "The scholars' work has some practical use,"
The parents also play enormous roles in encouraging the students'
Gravenberg says the program is very strict about the families' commitment
to the students. The parents participate in their own mandatory
seminars. They attend meetings discussing peer pressure, how much
time their son or daughter should study, and how to effectively
communicate as a family. Gravenberg says the parents find a lot
of support from the program and other parents. "They get a
renewed sense of energy for the Scholar," he says.
And Gravenberg has higher goals in mind. "My goal is to see
this program represented on all CSU campuses."