GEAR UP logoGEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federally funded college access program designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education immediately after high school.

We aim to improve college-going mindsets, high school graduation rates, and postsecondary enrollment rates through a wide range of research-grounded services to students, families, and teachers.

GEAR UP Educator Support

GEAR UP supports teachers, providing educators in Western NC access to support and resources, through grants, programming and professional development opportunities. Learn more about the opportunities and services of GEAR UP Educator Support.


Our work focuses on five main areas of postsecondary planning and preparation:

  • strengthening academic preparation for postsecondary success
  • providing intentional and comprehensive advising throughout students' secondary and postsecondary careers
  • developing curricular and extra-curricular experiences that inform and prepare students to take their next step
  • improving students' families' ability to support their students through postsecondary planning and preparation
  • continually working within our own institutions to remove barriers to college access, persistence, degree attainment, and transfer


Appalachian GEAR UP strives to promote and improve access to higher education in 10 partnering districts around Western North Carolina and leverages strategic partnerships to increase postsecondary enrollment. Appalachian GEAR UP provides college-going programming to students and families, academic support in schools, professional development for teachers and administrators, and more in order to improve college access in rural Western North Carolina.

Latest News

Exploring Boundless Horizons: Appalachian State GEAR UP's Unforgettable Summer of College Bus Tours

Time to load the buses! Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a summer of adventure and exploration! Well, that’s what we wanted GEAR UP college bus...

Academic Innovation Conference 2023

On June 12, 2023, ten cohort LEA districts, eleven third-party organizations, and cohort higher education partners sent over one hundred representativ...

Family Design Night Photo Montage

Evolution of the STEM Based Family Design Nights

All systems go. T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, ignition 2, 1. We have liftoff on the Appalachian State GEAR UP Partnership’s Family Design Ni...