Building strong, positive connections with SMILE club members and college is a primary goal of the program. College connection events bring middle and high school students in the same SMILE club levels together on college campuses to work on projects. 

The purpose of the program is to raise students’ aspirations and participation in higher education. For many students the idea of "college" is abstract.  The College Connection events are designed to make the academics and the experience as vivid. To support this connection, we hold engineering and sciences challenges, bring students to classrooms where they learn about academic programs to which they can aspire and meet college students and faculty.

What Teachers Say About College Connection
Ken Dickey has been a SMILE teachers at Nyssa High School for more than two decades and says he’s seen students, without higher education aspirations, open their minds to attending a university through these events.

“The emphasis SMILE places on college readiness have a contagious effect, I believe, on our entire student body,” Dickey said. “After many years of investment in SMILE, our students know they really can go to college and succeed if they develop the right attitude and put in the effort – their older brothers and sisters, their cousins and friends have already proven it so.”

Dickey said these strong ties to the university propel students toward a college degree.

“Because of the OSU connections and its continuing commitment to the Nyssa community, so many students have enjoyed college success – students who I believe likely would never have undertaken college,” Dickey said.