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placeholder April 9, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA

Holy Names University is located on 60 acres in the Oakland hills.
Courtesy of Holy Names University

Holy Names University focuses on early admissions

The first members of Holy Names University's Class of 2019 are finishing their freshman year — of high school.

Early Admit program
Visit: www.hnu.edu/admissions/earlyAdmit.html
Or call the Admissions office
at 800-430-1321
These 107 ninth-graders are the first to enroll in the Early Admit program the university offered last fall to students at Holy Names High School and St. Elizabeth High School in Oakland and St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda. Students at some schools in the Oakland Unified School District and the West Contra Costa Unified School District were also eligible.

Under the Early Admit Program, students who take and pass a prescribed list of high school, maintain a minimum of a 2.7 grade-point-average, take advantage of counseling and graduate from high school can enter Holy Names University with a minimum scholarship of $9,000, without taking standardized admissions tests such as the SAT.

The program was designed to help increase college readiness of urban students and provide them with the tools to succeed in college.

Among the reaction of parents: incredulity. Brian O'Rourke, dean of admissions and recruitment at Holy Names University, said parents are amazed that the services, including mentoring and tutoring, are offered free of charge.

"Most of the parental response has been general disbelief," said O'Rourke. "One of the most common questions is: How much does the program cost? They're skeptical we were providing this at no charge."

The students themselves sometimes have the same reaction, said Kathrine Hayes, an Early Admit Program mentor who is a member of Holy Names University Class of 2014 — and Class of 2010 at Holy Names High School.

"When you first meet them, the students are quiet," she said. "They don't know what to expect. They think it's too good to be true."

But weekly visits with a mentor help break the ice. The mentor's responsibility is to encourage the students to complete the program. "This is a good opportunity for you," she might tell a student who requires some encouragement.

Hayes, who is majoring in international relations with a minor in Latin-American studies, works with seven students at two high schools. Her twin sister, Kristina, mentors two other groups of high school students.

The mentors visit the students at their high schools. The first meeting is a getting-acquainted event; at the second meeting, the student is introduced to the what is known as the a-g requirements — courses approved by the University of California that are standard for college admission. The mentor also reviews the student's transcripts and grades and to be sure the students are on the right track to college.

Hayes does this "so they see what I see; so they'll know what colleges are looking for."

The weekly sessions also enable the mentor to act quickly if a student needs help. "If any of my students needs a tutor, I put them in touch with a tutor," she said.

The tutors go to the schools, and either work individually with a student, or in small study groups.

Hayes had been working with first-year students at Holy Names University when the opportunity to mentor high school students caught her attention.

"It was something I didn't get," she said of mentoring. After working with first-year students at Holy Names University, she appreciated the chance "to do this for someone else."

What she didn't count on was its effect on her.

"I didn't think it would have such an impact on me," she said. "The students make my day. I get to know them, their aspirations … they're also influencing me. I see change. It's nice to be that kind of change in a kid's life."

She may get a chance to see a change in many lives over her remaining years at the Oakland university. Holy Names will be offering the Early Admit program to incoming ninth-graders in fall 2012.

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