Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, visits with a student from Manuel Domingez High School in Compton during last year’s Achieve UC event. Steve Zylius/UCI

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 2, 2015 – University of California chancellors and other senior leaders will visit high schools across the state over the next few weeks to encourage students to attend college.

The effort, called Achieve UC, aims to deliver a simple truth: Higher education is within reach. Thomas Parham, University of California, Irvine’s vice chancellor for student affairs, will spread the word Tuesday, Nov. 3, at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. The New York Times recently named UCI the top school in the country in its ranking of institutions that do the most for low-income students.

Now in its fourth year, Achieve UC targets schools with lower-than-average university-going rates. The message that a UC degree is both attainable and affordable will reach about 6,500 California teens this fall.

Students are urged to see themselves as college material by both UC administrators and former classmates now enrolled at a UC campus.

But the event is more than an inspirational pep talk: University advisers are also on hand, offering practical help and workshops on the SAT, budgeting for higher education and writing effective personal statements. And for those considering community college, they provide guidance on how to subsequently transfer to a four-year institution.

Seeing former classmates who have been accepted to UC and hearing encouragement from academic leaders can go a long way in changing how students view their own potential, said Yvette Gullatt, UC’s vice provost for diversity and engagement.

Also eye-opening is learning about UC’s strong financial aid program, which is structured to ensure that cost is never a barrier to attendance.

UC’s Blue & Gold Opportunity Plan, for example, covers tuition for California students with family incomes of $80,000 a year or less. Other aid can help offset the cost of books, rent and living expenses.

“Students are so surprised when they hear that,” Gullatt said. “They are even more surprised to learn that 57 percent of UC undergraduates pay no tuition.”

Officials also hope to deliver the message that students have the academic chops to get into UC, if they apply themselves: At each of the schools UC leaders will visit, at least half of all the students who applied to UC in recent years were accepted, Gullatt noted.

Since the Achieve UC program was launched, some participating schools have experienced a significant increase in the number of students who pursue a UC education.

“These students have what it takes to succeed at the very best public university in the world,” Gullatt said. “We want to be sure they know that.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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