New Hampshire College and University Council hosts rural state college tour

CONCORD — The dream of going to college is not out of reach for thousands of New Hampshire high school seniors who may think their families can’t afford higher education. In an effort to connect local colleges and universities with students from rural communities, the New Hampshire College and University Council is hosting a two-week tour of high schools throughout the state. The basic idea: Get educators and prospective students into the same room together to discuss the possibilities.

“We have some of the best schools in the nation,” explains Mike Vlacich, president and CEO of NHCUC. “In order to encourage the next generation of young people to stay in New Hampshire, we must partner with schools and businesses to make sure they are aware of the opportunities that exist in New Hampshire to learn, work or start a business, attending a New Hampshire-based college or university is one important way to do this.”

Representatives of 13 New Hampshire colleges and universities will tour of 34 area high schools to meet with students, talk about financial aid opportunities, and seek individual ways to help disadvantaged students access higher education. Educators will tour schools from the Lakes Region to the North Country and into southwestern parts of New Hampshire.

“Our state’s colleges and universities are motivated to offer every possible opportunity to local students to go to their school,” said Vlacich. “We are all in this together. For every student we recruit, it helps the school, community and state and it opens the doors of possibility to the student. Our goal is to give every interested student a viable path to a college diploma.”

All 13 colleges and universities visit a high school together and set up a “mini fair” of sorts for the students to learn more about each institution. College admissions experts from a number of public and private institutions in New Hampshire will be available to talk with students about the admission process. Thousands of New Hampshire students have applied to area colleges and universities as a result of this annual program.

“The economic gap between those with a college degree and those without is well documented,” said Debby Scire, executive director of campus compact for New Hampshire. “Providing programming that encourages students to pursue post-secondary education is critical to our state’s economic health and democratic principles.”

Funding for the mini college tour is provided by GEAR UP, for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It is a free program that helps students succeed in school. It helps families and students learn about choices for education after high school and how to pay for it. GEAR UP believes that every student should have the opportunity to go to college if they work hard, take the right courses and stay in school. GEAR UP also believes that planning future success should begin with students and families in seventh grade and continue through 12th grade. For students who attend colleges in New Hampshire after their high school graduation, services will continue through their important first year of college.

The following high schools will be visited as part of the program: Pittsburg School, Mascenic Regional High School, Con-Val High School, Canaan High School, Colebrook High School, Groveton High School, White Mountains Regional HS (Whitefield), Berlin Senior High School, Gorham Middle/High School, Kennett High School, Monadnock Regional High School (in Swanzey), Hinsdale High School, Fall Mountain Regional High, Lisbon Regional High School, Littleton High School, Profile School (in Bethlehem), Lin-Wood Public School, Woodsville High School, Rivendell Academy (in Orford), Hanover High School, Sunapee High School, Plymouth Regional High School, Franklin High School, Winnisquam Regional High School, Gilford High School, Stevens High School (in Claremont), Lebanon High School, Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Laconia High School, Belmont High School, Inter-Lakes High School and Moultonborough Academy.

Participating New Hampshire colleges and universities are: Colby–Sawyer College, Community College System of New Hampshire (including NHTI-Concord’s Community College, White Mountains Community College, River Valley Community College, Lake Region Community College, Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College and Great Bay Community College), Franklin Pierce University, Granite State College, Keene State College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University, New England College, New Hampshire Institute of Art, Plymouth State University, Rivier University, Saint Anselm College, Southern New Hampshire University and the University of New Hampshire.