Group of high schoolers standing next to each other smiling
May. 8, 2024

High school students explore life choices and opportunities in the Rebel Start early college program.

College isn’t just for college students anymore. This past summer, the College of Education welcomed a cohort of high schoolers to UNLV to get a sneak peek into college life via the Rebel Start summer program. One of last year's students was Victor Macias, Jr. 

The Western High School senior was initially hesitant at the idea of college, but thanks to the program, he’s broadened his perspective. Rebel Start is not any ordinary summer camp. It's a transformative journey that empowers young individuals like Victor to embrace higher education, consider different career paths, discover their potential, and navigate life with newfound confidence.

In its inaugural year, the program attracted more than 130 eager high school students, most of whom come from Title I schools. These highly motivated students, who often lack access to early college opportunities, earn UNLV college credits at a reduced rate while enrolled at their Southern Nevada high school. 

More Than Lectures and Labs

The new dual enrollment program also aims to create experiences that focus on students’ overall personal development. "We target programs that deal with students' understanding of mental health and self-actualization," explains Sebern Coleman, director of educator preparation.

With the help of partners like Jobs for Nevada Grads and federal TRIO Programs, students are offered a wide range of activities that encourage them to pursue interests, set individual goals, and embark on journeys of self-examination.

Victor’s experience is proof that the program's curriculum is a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery. “I wasn’t sure if going to college was for me. This program helped me to identify going to college as one of my future goals.” Until then, Victor serves as class president and intends to enlist into the military, another post-secondary path highlighted in the program.

Gaining New Perspectives and Practical Life Skills

Throughout the program Victor and his cohort stepped outside of their comfort zones, discussing their multicultural experiences and equity issues that have affected them.

Looking toward their futures, students learned practical budgeting and financial planning skills. When students consider the financial outcomes of their life and career choices, they get a  valuable reality check about how their paychecks will match up to their housing and lifestyle aspirations.

Sharing their Experiences

Victor was quick to share his experience with his peers. This is how Rebel Start continues to grow. Marquis, another Western High School student, agreed. “Seeing my friend do the program, pass, and actually learn new things about the college experience was eye-opening. It made me want to have those same experiences.” 

By expanding its reach beyond the summer months and exploring opportunities to collaborate with high schools during the academic year, Rebel Start is poised to make a lasting difference in the lives of young minds. As the program continues to evolve, its commitment to fostering growth and empowerment remains steadfast, creating a brighter future for students from all walks of life. 


About UNLV’s College of Education Early College Programs

Early college opportunities are academic programs in which high school students earn college credit while in high school at a reduced tuition rate. These programs are hosted during the academic year and over summer. Learn more about early college programs, including dual enrollment, Rebel Teach, and Rebel Start Academy.