Morristown, N.J. (August 9, 2017) – This summer, 24 students enjoyed five weeks on campus during an introduction to college life through the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF). Attending classes, staying in the residence halls, and just relaxing with new friends, these young women and men began to realize that their dreams can come true.
EOF is a state sponsored program that provides students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to attend college. Students apply to both college and EOF on the common application. Once accepted, EOF funds several weeks on campus to help the students transition to college life, help develop skill sets, and earn up to 10 college credits to begin their freshman year. The students are accompanied by peer assistants who are students at the college and have been through the EOF program.
"This program was a lot of work," says Linda Barria of New Brunswick, N.J.. "I've done well keeping to our schedule and it's given me insight on how to keep my studying schedule going forward."
Yngrid De Los Santos, of Elizabeth, N.J., struggled with her English before entering the program, but credits her professors' patience and encouragement with her remarkable improvement. "The teachers really worked with me a lot and now I feel much more confident entering college in the fall."
On top of attending lectures, labs and tutoring sessions, students were required to read seven challenging books.
"It expanded our intelligence," says Debbie Pacheco, of Paterson, N.J.. "Reading these books allowed us to think and interpret things differently. It gave a nice variety to the classroom."
"Leaving high school, I never read one book that was assigned," says Fredderyk Valerio-Abreu, of Trenton, N.J.. "During the EOF program, I actually kept up with the reading and finished seven in just a few weeks. I feel way more prepared for my classes now."
In addition to gaining invaluable educational training and college preparation, these students also fostered lasting friendships and a great knowledge of the campus.
"I'm lucky because, come the fall semester, I know I'm not going to get lost," says Maria Rodriquez, of Paterson, N.J.. "And I already have a group of friends I'm familiar with."
Clifford Woodward, EOF director at CSE, sees the program as a holistic approach to learning. He believes, "EOF represents the educational discovery for each student and where the journey of that discovery will take them in life."
EOF alumni often return to the program as tutors, recognizing the benefit they derived from the program and encouraging the new students. The alumni act as role models as well, as successful professionals in their chosen fields.