For some students, two years of schooling at a community college is all they’re interested in. But for others, it’s just a stepping stone to more education.
Two-year schools overwhelmingly enroll low-income, minority, and first-generation students, while California’s four-year universities have a disproportionate number of white students coming from wealthy families, according to National Journal.
The state’s community colleges are pioneers in building a bridge between the two types of institutions, and Santa Monica College — having stressed a culture of transferring within the school — seeks to provide disadvantaged students with more opportunities.
Santa Monica College’s success is due to its programs that help students navigate the application process. Not only does its class schedule help students enroll in courses that four-year universities require, the two-year school also holds workshops, visits, and sessions with “admission evaluators” from four-year colleges in the area.
The school is equipped with 45 full-time and 70 part-time counselors who provide extensive guidance during the transfer application process, and as deadlines draw near, these counselors create “panic rooms” to help students complete their applications.
“We sit with them, we hold their hands, we read their essay,” Brenda Benson, the college’s dean of counseling and retention, told National Journal.
Transferring more students into the University of California four-year system than any other community college in the state, it’s clear that Santa Monica College is leading by example. If more community colleges across the United States offered these programs and services, minority students from low-income families would have the same opportunities as white students from affluent backgrounds — ensuring a diverse student body that can produce a competitive workforce.