The number of Arizona students graduating from high school is improving, according to Arizona State University.
Officials say it's improving partly because of educational outreach programs like ASU's new Future Sun Devil Families program.
"In our family we want them to have the opportunity to go to college. Our hope is that they have the opportunity to go to college and they can grab it," says Sonya Smith, of Mesa.
Her triplets are only freshmen in high school but they've been thinking about college for years.
Lately, though, they've been getting a crash course in what it actually takes to get into college.
"We got to see how much college will actually cost us and it was like a big shock seeing the numbers," says 14-year-old Steven Smith.
It's a reality check ASU is hoping will get students and their parents into the mindset of preparing for college sooner than later.
Program facilitator Steve Tannenbaum says, "It takes a family to send a student to college."
ASU just started rolling out the Future Sun Devil Families program to ninth-graders at several Phoenix area high schools, including Dobson High School in Mesa, where the Smith triplets attend school.
"It's not just a presentation for the students. It's a curriculum that includes workbooks, lessons, topics to discuss; from how to get into college to writing the application and applying for financial aid," Tannenbaum adds.
The program is free and includes monthly interactive workshops during the school year for families to learn together how to navigate the process of preparing for college
Sonya Smith says, "I know it's two hours once a month, but it's worth it."
She says it's a critical way to keep all family members on the same track.
"Not just one or two people," she says, "but everybody working together."
"You get a different point of view because to hear it from someone else that's there, seen it and has been through it … it's more of a … reinforcement," Steven adds.
If that road happens to lead these kids to ASU, Tannenbaum says, even better.
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