QUINCY -- Rob Hodgson says there is an easy way to wrap your arms around what the TRiO programs represent.
"They are an advocate for student success," said Hodgson, director of support services at John Wood Community College.
The TRiO concept is a compilation of federal outreach and student services programs molded to assist first-generation college students, those living in rural areas, low-income individuals and those with disabilities make their way through the academic pipeline.
At JWCC, that translates into the Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services programs. Those three free, grant-funded concepts are the heart of the TRiO blueprint at JWCC, programs designed to assist those as young as sixth grade.
TRiO -- which is not an acronym -- dates to the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965. JWCC has been involved with TRiO programs since 1989.
Hodgson emphasized TRiO is not designed as a recruiting tool, although JWCC can obviously benefit from the assistance it provides.
"Part of our mission is to serve the communities in our (nine-county) district," he said. "Sometimes the students (eventually) choose John Wood as a starting point after high school, sometimes they go to another school."
The important thing, Hofgson said, is they continue their education.
Hodgson said part of the TRiO objective is exposing students and their families to what college entails, and then -- if they wind up at JWCC -- assisting them while they are there and helping them in the transfer process to a four-year school.
The three elements of TRiO that provide student assistance in JWCC's district are:
º Upward Bound: The program is designed for students with limited financial resources and those whose parents have not received a bachelor's degree. Students are provided free services to help them achieve their educational and career goals.
"We work hard helping students and families understand why college is important, what it takes to get into college, and how to find ways to pay for it," said Tracy Orne, director of public relations and marketing at JWCC.
Students remain in the program until they graduate from high school.
º Educational Talent Search: This provides help and encouragement to individuals to complete their high school requirements and pursue further education or training. The training may include vocational schools, trade schools, business schools and two- or four-year colleges and universities.
Program advisers target those in grades 6-12 in various districts within the nine-county JWCC district. ETC also serves those who have dropped out by assisting them in re-entering the educational system.
º Student Support Services: Assistance is provided to qualifying JWCC students who are first-generation college students and meet income guidelines or who have a disability. The purpose is to improve the students' academic grade-point averages prior to their transferring to a four-year college or university.
‘Still use information'
Faith Mountain is a junior at Quincy University who benefited from both the ETC and SSS programs. She attended JWCC for two years after graduation from Brown County High School.
"ETS helped me plan for college while I was in high school," Mountain said. "I still use information I got in ETS."
Mountain said ETS also exposed her to a number of speakers from the community, which also helped her begin mapping plans for the future.
"I especially enjoyed being able able to hear from those in banking who talked about investments," she said.
She said the SSS program was especially beneficial during her two years at JWCC.
"It helped me with information I needed to have about transferring, and what classes I could take that would be most (beneficial down the road)," Mountain said. "I regularly met with with counselors, who were a great help."
Mountain was one of 180 JWCC students served during the 2016-17 academic year. During that same period, 670 high school students received help in the ETC program and 52 were served in the UB portion of TRiO.
"A lot of what TRiO helps do is expose students to things they might not otherwise know about," Orne said.
Tony Peck is another student who has benefited from TRiO assistance.
Peck is a non-traditional student who got a late start on college. Now 34, he is an advertising major at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
"I can't say enough about the resources, the support and encouragement TRiO provided," said Peck, a Pleasant Hill graduate whose parents are deceased. "I would have not had the opportunities I've had without TRiO. The help I have received has been immense."
Peck said advisers TRiO provided during his two years at JWCC were invaluable. Among the assistance the advisers supplied was being able to steer Peck toward available scholarships that helped make it possible for him to attend the University of Illinois.
"I can't say enough about how John Wood and TRiO have helped me," he said.