SAIL brings 450 low-SES HS students to campus to learn about college

Update: The students from Laura Bovilsky and Brian McWhorter’s Performing Arts camp will be putting on their show today at 2PM in the Daugherty Dance Theater (in the Gerlinger Annex). No tickets required.

KLCC has a report on this year’s program, highlighting the World Cultures camp. SAIL is focused on high school students who “should go to college, but are not now on the college track”. They can come back every summer for another week-long day camp, and for those that do about 75% go on to college. This is a high rate, given their demographics. There’s more about SAIL here. This year’s schedule is/was:

FREE Summer College Programs

JULY 16 – 20: Biology, Business, Economics, Education, English/Journalism, German/Scandinavian, Product Design, Psychology,
JULY 23 – 27: Physics/Physiology, Geography, Performing Arts, Environmental Studies, Chemistry, Product Design, Speech & Persuasion, World Cultures, World Languages & Literature.
AUGUST 20 – 24: Orchestra

SAIL started 12 years ago with an Economics camp and 13 students. This year there were 18 camps and about 450 students. We also have a mentoring program where we send UO undergrads out to work with HS students in study halls and so on. Next year we plan to gradually start expanding statewide, with students from farther away staying in the dorms. All the camps are free – thanks to some very generous gifts, hundreds of UO faculty volunteers, and very helpful UO staff and administrators.

I ran the Economics camp, with the help of about 10 faculty and 2 excellent UO student assistants, trained by Director Lara Fernandez. We had 17 students from grades 9-11, I covered the basics of supply and demand, including monopoly. It takes me several lectures to cover monopoly in a regular undergraduate intro class. These students had the basics down pretty well after 20 minutes and were already asking questions about price discrimination. Sorry, I told them, but you’ll have to come to college to learn that. Other Econ faculty covered basic macro, income inequality, the returns to education, risk aversion, international trade, urban economics and rents, and an intro to game theory, focusing on the prisoner’s dilemma and a proof of why 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 is the unique mixed strategy equilibria for rock-paper-scissors. President Schill and Provost Banavar helped out by running english and dutch auctions for books in the Johnson Hall lobby. Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog did pretty well. We also had tours of the Art Museum and the EMU, talks about college admissions and financial aid, and lunches at Carson.

The first day of camp I asked the students how many had been to the UO campus before Only about half had. I don’t think any of them had ever met a professor. Based on past years I expect only a few had a parent with an undergraduate degree. By Friday, they’d spent a week with professors and undergraduates, had met the university president, and were walking around campus as if they owned the place. So while I do think they learned a little economics, I know for sure they are no longer intimidated by the idea of being a college student.

If you want to volunteer, please check out the SAIL website here or just send me an email. If you want to donate, the UO Foundation has an easy to use website here.

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6 Responses to SAIL brings 450 low-SES HS students to campus to learn about college

  1. trumplackey says:

    For the ignorant like me, “SES” means “socioeconomic status”.

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    • uomatters says:

      Yup. And while they are low on that, they are smart, engaged, and a joy to teach.

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  2. trumplackey says:

    It seems like a very useful program, and I’m a bit jealous that no such thing was available when I was a kid (nor would I have been quite poor enough to qualify). There are a lot of nonsense dollars being spent in higher education, and I’d be quite happy to see them redirected towards things like this.

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    • apt says:

      Yes, a little jealousy here too as I was told college wasn’t a viable option, and yet eventually, somehow, got through. Even now as a faculty member, I still feel those old feelings of not belonging on a college campus; loved your point, “I know for sure they are no longer intimidated by the idea of being a college student.” A program like SAIL can be a real game-changer. And, how great to see an actual “Diversity Action Plan” in action!

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  3. Mark says:

    Do you know if there is a SAIL like program for non local residents?

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    • uomatters says:

      We are working on it for next year, initially for students from a small set of statewide low SES high schools.

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