GEAR UP Students and Parents Travel Across Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri for Extraordinary Tours

One hundred thirty-four students and guardians recently participated in a two-night three-day charter bus trip across Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. The trip was sponsored by EOSC GEAR UP (Eastern Oklahoma State College Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), and allowed partner schools’ students and their parents or guardians to tour colleges and universities they would not typically visit, the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, and a behind the scene career exploration at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The tour began at Eastern Oklahoma State College (EOSC) in Wilburton. Participants toured the campus and learned about programs and opportunities their local community college has to offer. EOSC is well-known for its athletic programs, agricultural division, including a visit to the Meat Processing and Food Safety department, and top-ranked nursing program. EOSC also offers classes at three other locations, making it accessible to many students in the southeast region of the state.   Participants visited the University of Arkansas (U of A) in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With 25,000 students representing all 50 states and more than 120 countries, The U of A has 10 colleges and schools offering more than 240 academic programs. U of A among only 3 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity.   On day two participants visited the College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO. College of the Ozarks is unique among higher education institutions in America with no tuition charged to students, all students work on campus, and debt is openly discouraged. Evolving from a high school, College of the Ozarks has become a thriving, four-year nationally recognized institution that is committed to a five-fold mission of encouraging academic, Christian, cultural, vocational, and patriotic growth in its students.   They also visited Ozarks Technical Community College-Table Rock (OTC) in Hollister, MO. The four-story Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center features both general education classrooms and state-of-the-art computer, science and nursing labs. The OTC Table Rock Campus offers general, technical, non-credit, and adult education and literacy courses for students planning to transfer to a four-year college and those pursuing a two-year degree program.   Next, they visited the Ancient Ozarks Natura Historical Museum which showcases the American West and civil war and astonishing collections of Native American artifacts and artwork as you journey through the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. They also experienced an unforgettable two-and-a-half-mile journey on an electric cart as they explored the Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail.   Day three of the tour ended at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. Students gained first-hand knowledge from professionals and leaders in the entertainment industry and learned what it takes to operate a theme park. Topics covered were Human Resources, Food and Beverage, Attractions and Safety, and Marketing. Students participate in an interview mauk and learned ways to build a strong resume. The purpose of the trip was to inspire students as well as parents and guardians to start thinking about the steps after high school as well as provide a deeper understanding of the various and unique degree programs colleges and universities have to offer throughout the states. The trip also allowed participants to get a first-hand experience of visiting colleges and universities they may never have had the opportunity to visit before high school graduation.   EOSC 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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