- High School Announcements and Resources - 


All high school students have been assigned an Advocate and some students have Academic  Coaches. You should expect to receive a call/text to set up a virtual meeting with your advocates during the first week in September. During this time, all high school students will create Ascend accounts. Ascend is a new online goal tracking platform that Student U will be using to communicate with students, families, and their support teams. Check out the videos below to learn more about Ascend, to create an account, and to learn how to navigate the site.

A todos los estudiantes de preparatoria se les ha asignado un mentor y algunos estudiantes tienen instructores académicos. Debe esperar recibir una llamada / mensaje de texto para programar una reunión virtual con sus mentores durante la primera semana de septiembre. Durante este tiempo, todos los estudiantes de secundaria crearán cuentas de Ascend. Ascend es una nueva plataforma de seguimiento de metas en línea que Student U utilizará para comunicarse con los estudiantes, las familias y sus equipos de apoyo. A continuación se muestra una carta para los padres en la que los invita a unirse al equipo de apoyo de su hijo en Ascend. Además, consulte los videos a continuación para obtener más información sobre Ascend, crear una cuenta y aprender a navegar por el sitio.

General Information about Ascend:

Student Resources

- High School Program -


When students transition into high school, they continue to attend Summer Academy in the ninth and tenth grades. Their classes are also academic, but are more project-based and focused on enrichment – classes like marine biology, screenwriting, psychology, the history of Durham, and Latinx Studies. In eleventh and twelfth grade, students participate in internships and academic summer camp opportunities in Durham and around the country in order to learn about and pursue their passions.

Summer student enrichment includes:

  • Five-week elective-based academic enrichment program: Our High School Summer Academy is designed to pique our ninth and tenth-grade students’ intellectual curiosity while strengthening the skills necessary to succeed in high school.
  • Local, national, or International summer opportunities: Funds are available to eleventh and twelfth-grade students to take advantage of these opportunities that range from pre-college programs and athletic camps to art and subject-specific camps.
  • Internship, job and/or volunteer opportunities: Eleventh and twelfth-grade students have the opportunity to work with the local community organizations in order to learn about and pursue their passions.
  • Weekly professional development: All High School students participate in weekly professional development to learn skills such as resume writing and interview skills.

During the summer, we are proud to partner with the NCDPI through the USDA Summer Food Services Program to provide healthy meals at no cost to our students. 

School Year

During the school year, high school students are supported by in-school and community Advocates. In-school Advocates are teachers or guidance counselors employed by Durham Public Schools, and community Advocates are people in the community interested in supporting students through their high school experience. Students meet with their Advocates weekly, and students' families and teachers communicate regularly with their Advocates. Students also receive individually tailored academic improvement plans based on their progress. All students and Advocates at each individual high school gather monthly at Cluster meetings to allow students to build college-ready skills and engage with the Student U community. Advocates communicate with program staff regularly and work to connect families to resources when necessary. During the year high school students are also able to connect with a small group or one-on-one tutoring twice a week after-school at The W.G. Pearson Center from 6:00 - 8:00 PM.

Year-Round student support includes:

  • Weekly meetings: Students meet with their Advocate weekly to create individually tailored academic improvement plans based on student progress.
  • Monthly Cluster meetings: Students meet monthly to build college-ready skills and build community among their peers.
  • Out-of-school tutoring: Students are provided with tutoring opportunities throughout the year in order to support our students and help them be successful in school.
  • U-Prep Saturdays: Students and parents attend U-Prep days twice a year with the aim to provide interactive workshops for students and families with tips about succeeding in high school and preparing for college.

College Preparation

Over the course of the school year, high school students work closely with Student U’s Associate Director of College Advising and Success. Students are exposed to a wide range of programming designed to help families plan, apply, and pay for college.  Students participate in college tours, monthly College Bound 101 workshops, a college fair, and individual conferences to meet students’ needs.

The earlier curricula for ninth and tenth-grade students focus on academic preparation (e.g., learning at Summer Academy, building community service experience/leadership, preparing for standardized tests such as the ACT/SAT), while curricula for eleventh and twelfth-grade students focus on the college application process (e.g., writing college essays, choosing the “best fit” college, applying early to a wide range of schools, applying for scholarships/grants, and financing higher education).

College Prep student support:

  • College tours: Students are informed about college applications and enrollment decisions.
  • Monthly College Bound 101 workshops: Students attend workshops to identify colleges that would be the best fit for them, complete all college and scholarship applications and plan their transition to college.
  • College Fair: Students attend to learn more about colleges/universities from across the country to identify best fits for students.
  • Individual Conferences: The Associate Director of College Advising and Success hosts individual conferences to meet students’ needs.
  • Test preparation: Students attend test preparation to prepare students for standardized testing such as the ACT/SAT.

- High School Opportunities - 

Apply to intern

Each summer, Student U rising Juniors and Seniors apply to intern at various local non-profits and businesses that align with their career interests. Internship placements include Girls Rock!, El Centro Hispano, The Animal Protection Society, Museum of Life and Science, and Student U. All interns participate in professional development workshops on Fridays and second-year interns are paid for their service.

Apply for Student U’s Durham Rotary Centennial Scholarship

Student U’s Durham Rotary Centennial Scholarship is an award given to up to four graduating seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to service during their time in Student U. This scholarship will be awarded to students who have demonstrated the potential to succeed despite adversity as well as a desire to improve themselves through further education or training. The award is $1000 the first year ($500/semester) and is renewable for one additional year. The deadline is April 17th at 5:00pm.

Apply for The Creative Mentorship Program with the Durham Arts Guild

The Creative Mentorship Program is a partnership between Student U and the Durham Art Guild, enables students to develop their artistic ability and unique creative voice. This 20-week program gives students the opportunity to develop their artistic skills under the mentorship of a local artist, participate in monthly field trips to arts organizations and museums in the area. The program culminates in a collaborative exhibit of student work at the Room 100 Gallery at Golden Belt Art Studios. Student participants may work in a variety of media including, but not limited to, painting, printmaking, photography, drawing, graphic design, sculpture and fiber arts (sewing, knitting, and weaving).

Past art experience is not required. All high school students with an interest in the program and the visual arts are encouraged to apply for this opportunity. Good candidates will be able to express their interest in the arts and their commitment to the program. We select 5 Student U students to participate in the fall.


I can compare each of Student U’s high school graduates to astronauts in training. Graduating high school, like graduating from space school, is not what we are going to be remembered for. Similarly, success at Student U isn’t simply graduating. The success of Student U is truly measured by the impact students are creating outside of the Student U community. Student U will have our own Yuri Gagarin, our own Neil Armstrong, and our own Buzz Aldrin. We will have students who will be the first in the world to do something incredible. We will have students who, like astronauts, will be remembered forever for making their fearless dreams come true.”

– Francis DeLa Cruz, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing Graduate

Advocate Resources