College-prep program helps students be ‘best person they can be’

October 11, 2012

By Tracy Gruen, Pioneer Local

PARK RIDGE -- Kids in the Schuler Scholar Program will be the first in their families to proudly walk across the stage to receive their college diploma.

The Schuler Scholar Program at Maine East High School chooses two-dozen high-achieving eighth-graders each year to participate in the program. Chosen students are the first in their families to attend college and those who wouldn’t be able to go to college without financial assistance.

The goal of the program is to prepare the eighth-graders for admission and success at top-tier colleges and universities during their four years at Maine East.

“There’s a very rigorous application process,” said Candace Browdy, executive director of the Schuler Scholar Program, created in 2001 by former Abbott Laboratories President and COO Jack Schuler and his daughter, Tanya Schuler Sharman.

At Maine East there are 19 freshmen, 26 sophomores and 12 juniors participating in the program. The program has grown since it started at the school three years ago.

“Our objective is to matriculate to a highly selective college,” Browdy said.

The program spends about $8,900 each year per student for programming during high school to get them well-prepared for college; it also provides $1,000 college scholarships each year.

Students must show that they receive A’s and B’s in their classes and students must receive high test scores, as well. They also receive recommendations from teachers and counselors. A select number of applicants are invited to interview with members of the Schuler staff.

Browdy said they look for students that are first-generation college-bound and may not have the resources, either human or financial, to attend college.

The program provides academic and college counseling, and helps students with the college-admissions process.

Junior scholars from Maine East are involved in summer college programs at colleges such as Princeton, Brown and Johns Hopkins, and are studying communications, medicine, legal studies and other subjects.

Sophomores at Maine East will attend a preparatory class for geometry-trigonometry and participate in a writers camp held by the Writers Theater in Glenview.

Beyond academics the Schuler Scholar Program also exposes youngsters to the arts and cultural events, such as theater and poetry slams, bowling, ice skating and other activities they may not have otherwise been exposed to.

Students also benefit from leadership and personal-development activities. The rising freshmen participate in a 10-day leadership camp in Wisconsin and take a six-week course to prepare them for high-school algebra.

“It helps them develop into the best person they can be,” Browdy said.


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