PEOPLE Scholars setting record admission and achievement numbers

Now in its twenty-second year, the UW-Madison Precollege Educational Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) celebrated the completion of precollege training for rising high school seniors from Madison and Milwaukee, along with a continuing streak of record UW-Madison admission offers and in-coming college scholars.

The PEOPLE RISE Class of 2021 will soon to be the incoming College Scholars of 2022. These precollege scholars are now well-prepared to close out their high school careers with excellent GPAs, high ACT test scores and offers to attend college on UW-Madison PEOPLE scholarships, Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion Cheryl Gittens told families and other participants at the virtual July 16 annual banquet.

This fall UW-Madison will welcome a record-setting incoming class of first-year College Scholars.

“This incoming class of PEOPLE College Scholars didn’t miss a step in pushing toward their goal of getting into UW-Madison,” Gittens said. “You’re ready, you’ve earned it, and we will see you here at UW-Madison next year.”

During their precollege preparation training, the incoming 2021 College Scholar Cohort had 145 students who completed the precollege program.  Among them:

  • The average GPA of Cohort 2021 is 3.42 — one of the highest recorded – our incoming college cohort of 2020 had the highest at 3.47;
  • 47% of Cohort 2021 achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher;
  • 109 of the 145 were admitted to UW-Madison – the 2nd highest number in program history, but the highest percentage. Again, our Cohort 2020 had 111 offers;
  • 84% of applicants from cohort 2021 were offered college admission;
  • 95 of those 109 PEOPLE Precollege Scholars have enrolled in UW-Madison as incoming College Scholars.

Currently, there are more than 600 precollege PEOPLE Scholars. Of those 85% have high school grade point averages above 3.0.  The overall unweighted grade point average or GPA of 3.49 for all PEOPLE students indicates graduates are well-prepared for colleges with a selective admissions process.

Among these current PEOPLE Precollege Scholars:

  • 56% are taking 2 or more advanced classes and the ACT average for Cohort 2020 is 21;
  • of the 96% of scholars who attended last year’s PEOPLE Summer University, 91% participated in the ACT-Plus program to get ready for this pivotal college-entrance exam;
  • the result was an improvement of 3.5 points in their ACT score.

PEOPLE College Scholars have maintained a first-year retention rate of 92% or better in each of the past 10 years.  In 2019-2020, the PEOPLE College Scholars Program saw a 16.5% increase in the 4-year graduation rate from the previous year.

The outcome is the result of imaginative, creative, intelligent, and driven scholars who refuse to settle, Gittens said.

“You are what the founders of the PEOPLE Program envisioned and what our beloved long-time director Jackie DeWalt labored tirelessly to make possible,” she added. “You are the embodiment of PEOPLE’s dedicated staff and instructors.”

Each year, PEOPLE Scholars are expanding into new and extremely challenging majors and career choices by dreaming – reimagining – their future, Gittens said. That, in turn, is the inspiration for all who will follow.  She encouraged the rising scholars to dream big, imagine without limits and make their dreams reality.

“We can’t wait to hear about your acceptance to UW-Madison and to seeing you on campus,” she added.

Since 1999, the PEOPLE program has been preparing highly competitive selected high school students to succeed at any UW System school, including any prestigious college or university like UW-Madison. PEOPLE Scholars get rigorous pre-college preparation to focus their ability to build and master academic knowledge, build cognitive strategies, build self-management skills, and learn about college through experiential learning.  The program provides tuition scholarships to scholars who are admitted to UW-Madison, along with continuing academic and development support while they earn an undergraduate degree.