UW Bothell and Marysville Middle School’s No Excuses Plan for College Success

Date: September 3, 2013
CONTACT: Lisa Hall, 425-352-5461, lhall7@uw.edu

Bothell, Wash - Students at last week’s Marysville Middle School (MMS) orientation got a taste of what the September 4th first day of school assembly will be like. In fact, they got a taste of what the rest of their time at MMS will be like, and it’s all about college. 

Students and parents were a bit surprised when admissions advisors from UW Bothell and several other institutions approached them while standing in line to pick up their class schedules, asking them questions such as: “What do you see yourself doing after high school? Have you thought about college?”  Before parent and child knew it, they had college materials in hand and were engaged in a conversation about higher education, something many had never considered, yet alone discussed.

If orientation didn’t get the students’ attention, the first day of school assembly will. MMS Principal Susan Hegeberg, along with her leadership team, teaching staff and UW Bothell admissions advisors, will announce that it’s a new day at MMS complete with a newly drafted mission statement: All MMS students without exception or excuse will develop the knowledge, skills, attitude and character necessary to ready themselves for college and career with support and guidance within a safe and caring school community.

“College-readiness is not necessarily college success,” says Hegeberg. “You’ve got to give kids what they need long term so when they get there, they have the skills and tools they need to successfully complete the program.  There is a huge equity issue about who is getting into college and who is successfully completing the degrees,” explains Hegeberg. “We started wondering, how do we get all of our kids ready so they can have a broader set of choices in their futures?  What are the specific steps? Once they get in, we want them to have the skills and knowledge to stay, succeed and graduate.”

According to Marysville Middle School’s “report card” from 2013, it was home to 863 students: 44% of which were minorities, with 58 classified English Language Learners.

The mini college fair at the middle school orientation was organized by UW Bothell admissions advisor and first-generation college graduate Ray Corona. The fair was just the beginning of an ambitious initiative born out of a partnership between MMS and UW Bothell admissions advisors. Additionally, the College Success Foundation (CSF) which provides statewide outreach for the Washington State College Bound Scholarship, worked with MMS on a 100% signup goal for eligible students.  Leiann DeVelder, CSF College Bound regional officer for the scholarship says this is a positive step, “I have enjoyed working with school districts and higher education institutions around utilizing the College Bound Scholarship to champion early awareness in middle schools and college readiness in high schools.   It is exciting to see schools and universities partner with each other to sign-up 100% of their eligible College Bound students and ensure success for all students in middle school and beyond.”

UW Bothell Admissions Advisor and Recruiter Sacha Nunn described the process of developing the partnership with Marysville Middle. “We conducted a professional development workshop for the whole school staff.” She added, “The purpose of this workshop was for staff to define their ideal school culture that would promote a college bound mindset, identify all potential barriers to achieving this ideal, and then collectively develop a roadmap to achieving this goal.”

In addition to regular class instruction, the daily conversations at MMS will include college, how to get there and how to be successful. It goes beyond talk. The teachers, many of whom are first generation college graduates, will share their circuitous paths to college, through college and into their careers. Those visual roadmaps will be laminated and hung outside their classroom doors to inspire conversation with students who may be encountering the same life obstacles they encountered.(Photo of teachers working on their roadmaps attached.) Admissions advisors and diversity student recruiters from UW Bothell will travel to Marysville on a regular basis to help the dedicated teachers prepare the students for college success. Also, MMS students, who have met many challenges inside and outside the classroom while moving through the system, may qualify for a new class where they can learn while also channeling their energy toward gaining leadership, character building and service skills.

For many students, parents, and staff, the mini college fair at the school’s orientation was an eye-opening experience. “We aren’t aware of any other middle school in this area taking on this type of endeavor, but what happened at our orientation, when our students were talking with college advisors, felt so magical, powerful and real for those kids,” Hegeberg says. “It felt like a life-changing event. It was life changing for me and it seemed to be for our students as well.”

About UW Bothell:  The University of Washington Bothell provides an internationally and nationally-ranked university experience that inspires innovation and creativity. With more than 30 degrees, options, certificates and concentrations, its curriculum emphasizes close student-faculty interaction and critical thinking. UW Bothell builds regional partnerships, inspires change, creates knowledge, shares discoveries and prepares students for leadership in the state of Washington and beyond. For more information, visit www.uwb.edu.