“A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain” is an old Arab proverb. It might well be a guiding principle exemplified by a unique program called Inyo-Mono Promise, which greatly expands opportunities for local students planning to go to college.
Inyo-Mono Promise is the innovative idea of Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Terry McAteer. A firm believer that you always come down on the side of what is best for the student, McAteer found himself wondering what he and local educators could do to encourage more students to successfully attend college and not be burdened with substantial debt for years after graduation.
“I read a study that said that high school students who visit a college campus are 70 percent more likely to go college,” McAteer said. “That led me to come up with the idea for a program to do just that.”
McAteer, working with other administrators, educators, and guidance counselors both at local high schools and community colleges, has arranged for several trips to the University of Nevada, Reno.
These “Nevada Bound” trips do not require students to enroll in the university, but rather aim to help students experience what life at a university is like.
Why UNR? it was a simple matter of familiarity, logistics, cost, and the reputation of UNR as a “first-tier, top-ranked university” that offers 75 majors and 65 PhD programs. UNR also offers a program that allows students a reduced non-resident tuition for four years at $4,309 per semester, as well as a one-time $1,000 scholarship to students, and a $5,000 per year scholarship for students with a 3.5 GPA or very good scores on ACT or SAT in critical reading and math.
McAteer’s proposal got an enthusiastic response from UNR’s Director of Admissions, Dr. Steve Maples.
UNR is a good choice for the Promise Program because many Inyo-Mono high school students and their families often go to Reno to shop, for entertainment, recreation, and medical or dental appointments, so they are familiar with the area.
Another consideration is that UNR recruits many of its students from rural areas with small towns that are similar to those found in Inyo and Mono counties, and it is easier for a local youth to “identify” and “fit in” with others from similar backgrounds at the college.
UNR is only a three-and-a-half hour drive from Bishop, the same time and distance as Cal State University in Bakersfield. The latter has not made much effort to recruit students in the Inyo-Mono area, and more often than not, it is becoming increasingly difficult for college and university students to get the classes they need to graduate in four years.
Meanwhile UNR guarantees classes will be available.
The longer a student attends high school past four years, the less likely they are to graduate or to even afford the cost of college. In California, the average debts for graduates range between $10,000 to $20,000 for students seeking a bachelor’s degree and much more for advanced degrees.
There is a 3-fold path available through the Inyo-Mono Promise Program: High School to Cerro Coso Community College (least expensive), Cerro Coso Community College to UNR (more expensive), or High School directly to UNR (most expensive).
Students in Inyo and Mono Counties are eligible for tuition payment and $300 toward books for two years if they attend their local Cerro Coso Community College.
Another avenue is for parents and students to meet with ESCC counselor Greg Kost, who works out of the campuses at Cerro Coso Community College in both Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. Well-liked by many Cero Coso students and graduates, he is also a graduate of UNR. Kost said UNR has changed a great deal since he attended 20 years ago.
“It did not have a student-centered feeling then as it does now,” he said. “Now, even on weekends, you find students on campus, especially at the new $64 million student achievement center.”
There are ten major construction projects costing $275 million scheduled to break ground at the University of Nevada over the next five years including an ambitious project to provide on campus dormitories for 80 percent of its freshmen.
Kost said that UNR fully accepts the CA Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum, making it easy for students from California to transfer there and not have to retake courses.
He also made it clear that, even though he is an alumni of UNR, it is just one of many choices available to college-bound students and that he does not favor one college over another. More often than not, he said, a student comes to him with a college already in mind, and if not, his job is to assist a student in making choices that are best for him or her.
McAteer’s office is also offering to pay for lodging and breakfast at the Eldorado Hotel in Reno along with a 450 gas card.
Four “Nevada Bound” trips are planned for March 27, April 3, May 1, and June 19.
For more information, contact Kim Cash-Miller at (760) 873-3262, ext. 402.