100% acceptance for UIC College Prep seniors

UIC College Prep music class

At UIC College Prep, students are encouraged to begin thinking about higher education as soon as they start high school. Photo: Joshua Clark

When 153 UIC College Prep seniors graduate June 9 at the UIC Forum, they will have another reason to celebrate: they’ve all been accepted to a four-year college or university.

For UIC College Prep, a charter high school affiliated with the university that opened in 2008, it means that both graduating classes so far have achieved a 100 percent acceptance rate to college.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find an administration and faculty that work harder than those at UIC College Prep,” said James Lynn, UIC’s executive director for high school development.

“There’s great instruction, the college counselors play a big role and the work that UIC College Prep does with parents is great. The UIC partnership definitely helps, too.”

UIC College Prep, which has a special focus on the health sciences, is a collaboration between UIC and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. UIC faculty help develop the curriculum and Noble Street runs the day-to-day operations.

Nearly 50 percent of the senior class was accepted into colleges or universities designated by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges as highly competitive or most competitive, said Megan Ballard, a college counselor at UIC College Prep.

As many as 25 students are planning to enroll at UIC this fall, Ballard said.

Ballard also keeps in touch with UIC College Prep alumni to track their progress after graduation. Ninety percent of the 2012 class enrolled in a four-year college or university last fall.

“We’re extremely proud of both the class of 2012 and 2013 and we’re really excited to continue meeting these goals and setting more ambitious goals for the future,” she said.

The charter school pushes students to start thinking about college as early as their freshman year, Ballard said. The school organizes college visit days when all students — freshmen included — take a day trip by bus to visit a college or university in Illinois or a nearby state.

“We start encouraging students that they can all attend a four-year college,” she said.

Juniors and seniors are invited to presentations by college representatives; they take seminars on applying to colleges, preparing for the ACT and more.

All UIC College Prep juniors also complete a mock application process, filling out the actual application for admission to UIC, said college counselor Grisel Murillo. Volunteers from the UIC admissions office read the applications and provide feedback.

“This helps them better prepare for their senior year and put themselves in the best light when application time comes around,” Murillo said.

Murillo and Ballard meet individually with seniors to help them through the college application and financial aid processes.

“The reality is, the majority of our students don’t have people at home who have gone through the application process and can help them with it,” Murillo said. “A lot of schools don’t have the resources to have a counseling department to help students on a one-on-one basis.

“We’re lucky our school puts a lot of value in counseling.”

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