By Andrea Xu
With the California education system experiencing another devastating blow to its budget, it is becoming increasingly crucial to find methods to maintain the state’s education standards. Higher education is seeing a shift from traditional state-funded colleges and universities towards for-profit and online colleges, like those found on websites offering accredited college degrees online and in technical colleges like ITT Tech. As a student attending the University of California, Berkeley, I understand the value of receiving a proper education, and have been personally affected by the budget cuts.
SMASH is a great organization that promotes academic values and achievement, providing a three-year, five-week summer math and science enrichment program for high-achieving, low-income students of color. SMASH scholars also receive year-round academic support such as SAT preparation and college counseling, gearing these students on the road to college. The best part? SMASH is free of charge. SMASH scholars are able to attend either UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) or Stanford University, living in the dormitories, attending classes, and getting a glimpse into the full college experience.
Most of these underprivileged youth do not have many role models, access to honors and AP classes, or even the necessary resources to help further their interest in pursuing a higher education; many therefore are unprepared to persist and to graduate, even if they wish to attend college. SMASH is a part of the Level Playing Field Institute, which includes programs such as The Initiative for Diversity in Education and Leadership (IDEAL) to help prevent this discouragement and essentially, to help level the playing field.
Help promote higher education and get involved! Not only can you donate to help keep this program cost-free, but you can also be more involved by serving as a SMASH instructor! Whether you are a genius in math or simply love to help, this is a great opportunity to exercise your passions and strengths to help a student better his or her future. And there is no greater personal satisfaction than knowing you made a difference.