One of the biggest drawing cards for potential students is SU’s generous offer to grant a scholarship to any HSLAPS student who fulfills certain requirements. Lonnie Morrison, the director of SU’s Metropolitan Admissions Program, is the liaison between the main campus admissions office and the high school. Says Morrison: “In part, my responsibility is to come up with guidelines for admissions to the Syracuse University Challenge Program, so students have an idea of what it takes to get into the University. According to our agreement, students are guaranteed admission to the University if they earn a Regents diploma, maintain an 85 average, and score at least 1,100 on the SATs. However, it’s not an exact science; we do have some leeway. There are other variables that can compensate. If a student shows leadership qualities, or is involved in community service, we recognize that. We need to be sensitive to those issues in the admissions process and not just be tied into numbers.”
If a student doesn’t quite meet these qualifications but is still deemed worthy of admission, he or she may be chosen to attend SU’s Summer College Program, paid for by the Friends of HSLAPS and SU Trustee James R. Miller ’63. The Friends also offer a free laptop computer to any student who is admitted to and attends SU, which seems to be a powerful incentive. During the past four years, 19 HSLAPS students have attended SU. Collectively, they have maintained a grade point average of more than 3.0.
What’s also important is that HSLAPS students get a small taste of what it’s like to be in college. In 10th grade, they have a special leadership class; in 11th grade, they have a law class; and in 12th grade, they participate in a government class based on Coplin’s public policy course.
“Overall, the program has been successful,” says Morrison, who also teaches a mandatory course in urban education and school reform to the SU interns who work at the high school. “Obviously there is room for improvement, but the program raises the bar so students have choices that they may not have had before. Alumni participation, and the mentoring that goes along with it, gives these students insight into why a college education is important.”
Coplin, like Morrison, sees the program headed in the right direction. “We’re operating against huge odds and making progress,” he says. “The hardest piece of evidence is that the students who’ve come to SU from HSLAPS are all on track and will probably graduate.”
Impressions of SU
Three students—sophomores Matthew Klein and Leslie Stewart and junior Walter Oruam—file into Ann Gilligan’s office to talk about the mentoring program and the trip to Syracuse taken several months earlier. Seated around the table, they can hardly contain themselves when asked about their experiences. “We saw the Dome, and that was very nice,” says Stewart. “Yeah,” Klein adds, “they let us step onto the field.”
"I liked the dorm,” Stewart says. “The feel of it was great. After seeing that, I said, ‘I can’t wait until I go to college.’ The more I saw, the more I wanted to go to Syracuse.” When he returned from the trip, Stewart immediately sought out some SU interns to quiz. “I found out what dorm life is like, what it’s like to be homesick, what the workload is like.”
They all applauded the influence SU has had on their high school and their lives. “I feel like I’ve got some college under my belt and it means I might even have a chance to get into a college,” Oruam says. “This school pushes you toward college. It makes you realize that you have to start now.”
Then, he adds, “In the big picture, Syracuse University has done a lot for this school.”
And, most importantly, Oruam and many of his classmates know a college education is within their reach.
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