SUNY Oswego’s Educational Opportunity Program returned to an in-person session this summer, with a robust enrollment in the program that provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may not otherwise be able to attend. 

After an introductory online week, EOP students came to the college’s lakeside campus from July 11 to 30 for an orientation that included workshops and discussions on academics, student involvement and requirements for college success -- as well as social activities.

These programs are designed to incorporate academic instruction to familiarize coursework, practice time management, advance digital literacy and build skills.

Joey Tse, who directs the program, reported an enthusiastic and engaged cohort of students who became better connected with how to navigate their classroom experiences, find services from various departments and offices, join organizations and more. The EOP team fosters a welcoming climate for everyone that recognizes diversity in backgrounds and learning styles.

Every EOP student is assigned an academic planning counselor (APC) who will work with them throughout their college career. APCs also serve as the faculty advisors for all EOP freshmen and as links to engage students in all the resources and opportunities the college has to offer. 

APCs also facilitate college success courses supporting college preparation, regulating focus, helping direct students on issues or where to seek resolution, plus advising explanations of financial aid, tutoring on subjects and health services.

Peer support

New students were able to learn more about college life and the campus from Peer Leaders like Katherine Rodriguez, a double major in human development and wellness management who was able to pay forward the boost the previous year’s online summer program helped her.

“The EOP summer program contributed to my success because it exposed me to what college life would be like,” Rodriguez said. “Academically, I got to work on my time management skills before classes began. … The summer program taught me the importance of asking for help when I needed it.”

Rodriguez was happy to share those resources, as the EOP office “assured us that there are offices on campus who want to help us succeed, so if we need help, reach out,” Rodriguez said. “Socially, the Peer Leader position has helped me connect with other students in my class and incoming students. … The EOP office is always trying to support their students the best they can and it is appreciated.”

Since mental health services are a valuable resource for all college students, EOP APC Grace Maxon-Clarke said help with the adjustment period is important, especially since many EOP students are first-generation, which means they will not have any family role models to provide advice. 

Despite what can seem like a lot of heavy topics, Maxon-Clarke stresses that the EOP summer program is a lot of fun because the students bring plenty of personality, talent and excitement.

“Helping students navigate schedules with campus clubs, advising the talent the incoming class brings and growing EOP support at Oswego are some of my favorite things about the summer program,” Maxon-Clarke said. 

In addition, EOP works with alumni to mentor students from their start through after graduation in career networking and support in achieving attainable goals. 

Manny Boaten, who earned his master’s in business administration from SUNY Oswego in 2019 and is now a public accountant, shared how EOP impacted his college experience by helping to manage stress levels and finding the right people to listen and assist in providing advice.

“Having EOP advisors guide and motivate me only made me better,” Boaten said. “EOP has always been my family away from home and has been that helping hand I never thought I needed.”

Interactive workshops and social activities provided opportunities for students to get to know each other, as EOP quickly becomes like a family to its students, as well as staff.

Tse reports other plans include “organizing the incoming freshmen and hosting an integrative experience for a special moment for the last freshman class.”

For more information, visit the college’s EOP website. 

-- Written by Alex Brown of the Class of 2021