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2016 UT Legislative Day

TEXAS OnRamps Prepares Students for What’s Next

Current UT Austin students, who took TEXAS OnRamps dual enrollment courses in high school, joined state legislative staff and university leaders on April 21, 2016 to share how the program's challenging, college-level coursework prepared them for attending a major research university.

In telling her story, freshman Biology and Nursing student Kelsey Mumford emphasized that the gains from OnRamps went beyond just academic preparation. Indeed, learning programming languages in her OnRamps statistics and computer science courses in high school landed her a position as a lab assistant in a research group. “I couldn’t participate in the Freshman Research Initiative because I was not a CNS student, so, I applied to some lab positions," said Mumford. The researchers picked up on her skills with R-studio, a gold-standard programming language used for statistical analysis, and other programming skills from her computer science class. They immediately recognized the skills she could bring to the lab. “They said, ‘we saw your resume and you know these advanced programming languages, are you a junior or a senior?’ — and I said, 'No, I am a freshman but I took OnRamps courses and they really got me ready for UT early so that I could take advantage of opportunities right when I got here.'"

Zia Lyle, majoring in Civil Engineering at UT, also spoke about her experience with OnRamps in high school. She articulated the power of seeing the differences between high school and college expectations early. “In high school, the expectation is to just take what you learn in class and then do your homework.” Students' high school grades are the result of many smaller activities and multiple opportunities to redo work with low grades or make up late assignments without penalty. This is not how college works, as Lyle reflected: “In college, you have to study every day and apply what you learn in class to tests that make up a full 30% of your grade.” She talked about the bridges OnRamps builds between high school and college expectations. “OnRamps combines these features - you have to really keep up, teach yourself, and apply all that [you learn] to exams and labs that are worth a large percentage of your grade...One test in college really impacts your grade, OnRamps prepared me for what it would be like at UT and let me know what the expectations in college were.”

"The jump start OnRamps gave these students is by design. The courses are challenging and organized to build deep conceptual knowledge and key cognitive skills that are required for college success, early," said Director of OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Julie Schell. "We are so impressed with these students and excited for their futures to unfold."

With rigorous college course work aligned with the expectations of leading colleges and universities, Lyle and Mumford exemplify the ways in which OnRamps prepares students for what’s next. Dr. Harrison Keller, Deputy to the President for Strategy and Policy, also reported on plans to replicate OnRamps with other colleges and universities in the near future. He expects 6,000 students to participate in 2016.

OnRamps currently offers seven courses and serves 3300 students across 66 Texas high schools. OnRamps students experience accelerated success and broadened access to important learning experiences in ways that go beyond the classroom. If you are interested in seeing OnRamps offered on your campus, please click below to learn more. #whatstartshere

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