According to the United States Census Bureau and the United States Department of Agriculture, educational attainment of people living in rural areas has increased but there is a large and growing gap in college and postgraduate educational attainment between rural and urban areas.  With a goal of closing this gap, Gates County and Pasquotank County are joining forces to offer ACT Preparatory training to high school sophomores and juniors.  The courses will start in January 2020 at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City.   “We are ecstatic that this opportunity is coming to the youth of Gates County.  Education is key and the importance of college as a means to reaching your potential is paramount,” stated Sherley Jones, Jr., Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We appreciate the chance to be involved in this effort to make college more accessible for our students.”

4-H, a network of youth organizations whose mission is engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development, is managing the program through “ASPIRE” (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education).  The program, which is offered by North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is designed to bridge deficits in rural high school students’ performance on the ACT College Entrance Examination in order to increase the number of students pursuing higher education.  Participants will receive 30 hours of ACT course instruction, a Princeton Review ACT Study Manual, a Princeton Review 1,460 practice question manual and four full length practice exams with score analysis.  Financial assistance will be offered to those deemed of need.

“Getting ready for the ACT can be hard.  We have a great relationship with Pasquotank County 4-H and their agent, Mason Lawrence, who is a Gates County native.  They are allowing us to participate in their program while we work to have one of our own next year,” said Keli Boone, Gates County 4-H Extension Agent.  “Jonathan Hayes, the principal of Gates County High School, was instrumental in emphasizing the need of this training and fully supports the initiative.  We are elated to have resources available to provide this to our students.”

ASPIRE delivers access to enrichment activities more easily available to urban and economically advantaged parts of the country, as ACT success is often a determining factor for acceptance and merit based financial aid at the nation’s colleges and universities.  Students must have a minimum 3.2 unweighted GPA to be considered for the program.  The application can be found at and the deadline to apply is December 13, 2019.

For more information, see or contact Keli Boone of Gates County 4-H at 252-357-1400.