EvCC helps struggling students for free

EVERETT – After 17 years at Everett Community College, the Youth Re-Engagement Program that allows at-risk youth to attend college for free is not filling up as fast as it used to.

Program manager Rebecca Hungerford said there are usually three cohorts of about 25 students each who attend morning, midmorning or afternoon sessions. New cohorts start each spring, fall and winter. This year there were only two cohorts. With high school dropout rates at 30 percent, that means more students could be served.

The program is for anyone ages 16-21 without a high school diploma. As they work toward their diploma, they also work toward a college degree or certificate. The credits earned fulfill their diploma requirements, too.

The program pays tuition and class fees, textbooks and any required extra materials, typically around $2,000 per student per quarter.

Each student also has a case manager to help them learn to how to be a successful student. Hungerford said the program is great for students who have struggled with homelessness, drug addiction, legal issues, etc. Many are now college graduates, business owners, even attending medical school, she added. Two of the U3 staff are former U3 students who came back to help youth who are where they once were.

“I have a dozen kids from Marysville and Arlington who are here attending, plugging away at earning their degrees, who would have never had the chance to go to college if not for this program,” she said.

Students, who must be able to read at an eighth-grade level, start U3 with a Foundations class.

“It’s our screening quarter,” Hungerford said. “We find out who is serious and who shows up. It’s us checking you out and you checking us out.”

Depending on which career path they choose, students can be done in three quarters to obtain certain certificates. But they can also stay on to obtain their associate’s degree, too.

“In high school students are told they have to do this,” Hungerford said. “They feel like it’s busy work.”

But it’s different at EvCC.

“They are treated like adults. They have a lot of options. Students can do what they want to do,” she said.

Hungerford said the case managers look after 60 students, but that “personnel connection does our students good. We have your back.”

The U3 program manager tells interested students that college is hard.

“We are not a quick, easy way to be done with high school. Please be prepared to work your butt off,” she told potential students this week.

Hungerford said U3 staff can seem a little nosey. It’s not to keep potential students out. It’s to know the best way the program can support you.

“We’ll be all up in your business,” she said. “But there’s not much you could disclose” that would disqualify you. But you might not have access to college otherwise.”

For details, call 425-259-8738 or go to www.everettcc and click on “Pre-College Programs.”

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