Merced students get a taste of life at a university

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 12, 2013 

— They heard a lecture, jotted down notes and took a quiz.

That's what a group of students from Yosemite High School in Merced did Tuesday at UC Merced -- getting a little taste of college life.

"It's hard taking notes," said Nick Rios, 17. "It's harder than high school."

Rios was among the almost two dozen students who participated in "University for a Day at UC Merced."

The program was developed by a group of teachers from all education levels, said Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute coordinator at UC Merced.

The program began at Merced College as a way to show high school students what college life is like, Braunstein said.

Today, a group of students from two local high schools visits UC Merced and Merced College every semester.

"We want them to have a little of the experience of it," Braunstein said.

Participating students typically have been English- language learners in an effort to spark their interest in higher education and make it less intimidating, she said.

Besides learning about admissions and financial aid, they get to ask UC Merced students about campus life, Braunstein said.

They also learn how to take lecture notes at a workshop, attend a lecture so they can use those skills and then take a quiz on the lecture material.

"We want them to know this is possible," Braunstein said.

The program also gives students the opportunity to visit a place -- such as UC Merced -- they may not have been before, said Kou Her, a counselor at Yosemite High.

Such was the case for Rios. "This is my first time coming to campus," he said. "The campus is amazing."

The high school senior said the program was beneficial, especially for him, because no one in his family has attended college. He said college now seems like a more realistic goal for him.

"I think I would be able to adapt to it," Rios said.

Her said he is able to see the excitement in the students' faces when they return to school. It gets them to start thinking about college, he added.

"I think it's a great motivation for them," Her said.

Brianna Hose, another Yosemite senior, said her favorite part was talking to the UC Merced students and realizing it's an option for her.

The 17-year-old said she sees herself as a college student, but maybe not at UC Merced.

"It's too close to home," she said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or

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