McAlester Ninth Grade GEAR UP Students Virtually Tour Northeastern State University

One hundred sixty-three McAlester ninth grade GEAR UP students recently participated in a virtual tour of Northeastern State University. Due to COVID-19, and complying with the school’s safety standards, adjustments were made to the normal on-campus college field trip to give students an insight to a college experience at NSU. NSU representative Sara Ryals connected with the students via Zoom, which is a video conferencing platform. Ryals introduced herself and shared her experience as a NSU student. She also showed the students a virtual tour of NSU’s Tahlequah campus. She then talked to the students about NSU’s history, degree programs offered, scholarships, tuition and fees, financial aid, housing costs, and clubs and organizations offered. One topic that caught students’ attention was the International Student Exchange program, which allows students opportunities to study abroad. Ryals also discussed the 18:1 student to faculty ratio, meaning there are 30 or less students in each class. At the end of the Zoom meeting, Ryals answered students’ questions pertaining to NSU and college. She closed the meeting by saying, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” Ryals encouraged students to visit NSU’s Tahlequah campus once it was safe to do so, and reiterated that NSU was something that the students would have to experience for themselves. The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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