seal  Purdue News

November 5, 2003

Purdue students help Indy teens prepare for, apply to college

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Indianapolis teenagers are learning what it takes to prepare and apply to college thanks to some of Purdue University's top students.

About 20 middle school students are spending their Saturday mornings at Riverside Park's Family Center in downtown Indianapolis learning how to apply to college at Preparation in Excellence workshops designed by Purdue's chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

"In the past, these Purdue students have addressed short-term service projects in the local area," said Robert Melara, professor of cognitive psychology and adviser for the scholars. "This year they are helping inner city kids who want to pursue a college education. The Purdue students are using their experiences to help middle school students make good decisions and plans for high school, and they also are helping high school students prepare for the college application process."

About 1,000 Purdue students are in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which focuses on scholarship, leadership and service. Students with at least a 3.4 grade point average can join at the end of their freshman year.

The Preparation in Excellence workshops started Sept. 13 at Riverside Park, 2420 E. Riverside Drive. The park is located on 98 acres, and the family center is housed in a three-story building with a gym and auditorium.

The eight workshops are open to all Indianapolis middle and high school students. Topics include understanding college, preparing for exams required for graduation or college entrance exams, completing applications, learning about financial aid, planning high school courses and choosing a major.

"Some students are not sure what college is all about," said Desiree Chuang, vice president of the society and a senior from West Lafayette studying psychology and sociology. "They know they want to go, but they really aren't sure what is needed to get there. Many students only hear about a college's sports teams when they really need to know the different majors and career options available to them."

Anu Bhargava, society president and a senior in premedicine and electrical engineering from West Lafayette, added, "We learned at our first workshop that these kids are motivated to go to college to earn a degree. They just need some additional support – such as completing applications and knowing what high school classes will best prepare them for a major – for them to succeed."

The Purdue chapter of National Society of Collegiate Scholars is funding Preparation in Excellence workshops. In addition to the workshops, the Purdue students are planning a day on Purdue's campus for the Indianapolis students to visit classrooms, the student union and residence halls.

"The connections that the Purdue students have made with the youth at our center has just been phenomenal," said E. S. (Ted) Van Riper, Riverside assistant park manager. "These personal connections have given the kids from Riverside motivation, and I hear from parents that some students' grades are improving. Before the workshops started, we had a group of inner city youth who didn't know about the educational opportunities outside of their neighborhood. Now, just because Purdue students are taking a few hours on Saturday to talk with these students, they have a new world open to them."

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Robert Melara, (765) 494-9059,

Anu Bhargava, (765) 743-7168,

Desiree Chuang, (765) 765.532.0412,

E. S. (Ted) Van Riper, (317) 327-7171,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Note to Journalists: Journalists interested in attending a Preparation in Excellence workshop on Nov. 8 or 15 should contact E. S. (Ted) Van Riper, Riverside assistant park manager, (317) 327-7171,

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