A webinar by EdSource’s Lary Gordon and Anna Vasquez along with a panel of college admissions experts breaks down what higher education admission looks like during the pandemic. The college admissions process has had some drastic changes affecting students and administrators. Students have had to adjust the way they approach applying to colleges and universities, just as much as administrators have had to change the way they review applications.
Perhaps the greatest change sweeping college admissions is standardized testing. Traditionally, testing was a big deciding factor in student admission. Many would argue standardized testing is outdated and since standardized testing has been dropped many more students have taken their chances at highly selective colleges than ever before. With more students applying to traditionally more selective institutions, college acceptance rates have actually lowered and students are left with few options for higher education. On the other hand, others argue test scores were simply data, some colleges have accommodated and considered various other factors which help determine their admission ranging from GPA, prompt excerpts, geographical location, extracurriculars, among other factors.
There is another factor to consider when analyzing grades for admission. Since the elimination of standardized testing, more emphasis has been placed on grades during the college admission process. Students have felt the pressure to have excellent grades. AB 104 allows students to change their grades to a pass or fail to account for any students whose grades may have suffered because of the pandemic. This has led to somewhat of grade inflation, however, colleges will also take into account how challenging the classes they are taking are and how well they excelled in those classes. Students shouldn’t feel bad about choosing a pass or fail class because the bill would put in place to aid students not harm them.
Over the course of the past few years, college admissions have been under fire at various institutions. Even the most prestigious colleges like Stanford and USC have been no strangers to scandals. After students and colleges got exposed for allowing students to buy their way into college, the admissions for these institutions lost their integrity when considering students. Ironically, the scandal made students more inclined to apply to these colleges once they saw the lengths privileged wealthy people were willing to go to in order to gain admission. Through transparency, college admissions hope they can earn back the trust of applicants. Not only do they hope to restore the integrity within these institutions but some colleges even hope to bridge the gap of inequality created by these scandals.
Experts suggest students share their stories in order to stand out! They also urge students to explore many colleges to find the college that may be the best fit for them. Overall the admissions process is constantly evolving. Students should share their experiences and excel in school to the best of their ability.
To watch the roundtable discussion with college admission experts and learn more click here.
Students who attend public colleges and universities are protected against disability discrimination by Title II under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many campuses are equipped with offices and services for college students with disabilities. The goal of these offices and services is to address accessibility, accommodation, and assistive technology for a diverse range of needs.
To begin receiving accommodations you must first register as a student with disabilities, this is done with the disabilities service office in your school. Disabilities offices have instructions for how to register for services on their website. Remember the name of the office does not necessarily need to have the word “disability” in its name, you can also look for words such as access, equity, or accommodations. You also need to provide evidence of a disability to get accommodations but remember that disclosing your disability to your school is completely optional.
Examples of disabilities are, but are not limited to:
- Neurological conditions
- Sense organ impairments
- Musculoskeletal impairments
- Emotional or mental illness
- Respiratory conditions
- Digestive ailments
- Learning disabilities
- Organic brain syndrome
However, you will need to disclose this information if you wish to receive academic adjustments. All colleges receiving federal funding must ensure equal access to students with disabilities, meaning they have to provide “reasonable” accommodations.
Here are some typical academic adjustments institutions provide:
- Sound amplification aids
- Speech to text software
- Accessible testing locations
- Note-taking services
- Priority class registration
- Sign language interpretation
- Course substitutions
In college, there are programs that provide additional assistance if you or anyone you may know is a current or former foster youth. Programs such as NextUP and Guardian Scholars can offer personalized support throughout your college journey. Being in a community of students and dedicated staff can ensure you get the help that you need. Here’s a breakdown of the programs and how to apply:
What is CAFYES?
- CAFYES(Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support) is now known as NextUP. NextUp is a program offered to community college students to provide support services. These services include resources for financial support, transportation, textbooks, supplies, food, and emergency housing.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Former or current foster youth students that attend a California community college may apply if:
- You are a California resident
- You were established or continued as a dependent in court on or after your 16th birthday
- Proof of written verification of foster status(i.e. Court dependency letter)
- Under the age of 26 years old
Where should I apply?
- Students who are interested in applying for this program should visit their local EOPS office for more details.
Guardian Scholars Program
What is the Guardian Scholars Program?
- Guardian Scholars is another program that also caters to foster youth but on a larger scale. This program is available to students who attend community college, a CSU, UC campus or a private university. Services include individualized counseling, housing assistance, financial resources, and community-building workshops/events! The name of this program may vary by campus, but please contact your student services department to point you in the right direction.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Identify as a current or former foster youth that has been in the foster care system or has a status as an Independent, homeless or emancipated
- Able to provide a status verification letter
- Under the age of 26 years old
- Maintain a good academic standing
Where should I apply?
If you are interested in applying, you can visit your campus website and type “Guardian Scholars” in the search bar, or you can contact your Student Affairs department for more details.
NextUP and Guardian Scholars have helped thousands of students across California on their pathway through higher education. Although each campus offers its own particular services, their ultimate goal is to support the personal and academic goals of current or former foster youth students. Find out more information through the links below!
For community college students, click here
For CSU students, click here
For UC students, click here
For private universities, visit the campus website for their eligibility and selection process.
Here are a few examples of program benefits:
LMU Guardian Scholars
Trojan Guardian Scholars
Torero Renaissance Scholars
As a college student, you may feel completely fine one day. The next day, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to calculating various college costs and fees. Fortunately, there are statewide programs that can help students like yourself with course materials, textbooks, and much more. Student success programs such as EOP, EOPS, and TRIO were developed to streamline a supportive pathway with additional resources. Here’s a breakdown of the programs and the services they provide:
What is EOP?
The Educational Opportunity Program was created to assist students, in order for them to receive support services to ensure academic success. Support services include but are not limited to tutoring, financial assistance, personal counseling, academic advising, graduate school prep, and more.
Who is eligible for EOP?
Undergraduate students who are:
- A California resident
- A First-generation college student(Neither of your parents has received a bachelor’s degree)
- Academically disadvantaged and/or come from a low-income background
- Enrolled full-time(Part-time students need to request approval)
Why is EOP important?
- EOP provides grants to students who participate
- Access to extensive workshops for academic and personal success
- Networking opportunities for community events
What is EOPS?
Extended Opportunity Programs and Services is a support program that is offered to community college students to encourage college completion. EOPS offers similar benefits to EOP, such as tutoring, individualized counseling, and financial support.
Who is eligible for EOPS?
Community college students who are:
- A California resident
- Eligible for California College Promise Grant Fee Waiver
- Enrolled full-time (12 units of more)
- Have completed less than 70 degree-applicable units
- Academically disadvantaged
- Pursuing an Associate’s degree
Why is EOPS important?
- EOPS provides financial assistance for textbooks, reduced student bus pass/parking permits and meal vouchers
- Participants receive priority registration for classes
- Opportunities for professional development and networking
What is TRIO?
TRIO is also a statewide program that aims to directly support students throughout college. This program was created to promote social, academic, personal and professional development.
Who is eligible for TRIO?
An undergraduate student that is:
- A US Citizen, Permanent Resident, or a U.S National
- A first-generation college student
- Able to provide proof of physical or learning disability
Why is TRIO important?
- TRIO can offer graduate school advising and exam prep, career counseling, and professional development skills
- Students are able to receive priority registration
- Students also have the opportunity to receive a peer mentor for navigating student life on campus
These programs collectively provide various ways for students to be successful throughout college. To apply for the TRIO program in any college system, you can contact the student services department at your campus for program eligibility, forms, and deadlines. If you or a colleague is interested in applying for EOP, click the following links below.
To apply for a EOPS at a community college, click here
To apply for CSU EOP, click here
To apply for UC EOP, click here
Higher education institutions in California have established statewide programs to provide resources for undocumented students. These programs offer support for applying to the California Dream Act, AB 540 information, scholarships and even more. The type of resources these programs provide varies widely across campuses and it can be different within the same segment of higher education. Some California campuses have physical centers while others don’t. The center or programs do not necessarily need to have the word “undocumented” in its name, you can also look for dreamers, dream or multicultural. Use this interactive map to learn about resources at each California campus.
California State University
Because of the current surge in COVID cases due to the highly contagious delta variant, the CSU is looking to maintain the health and well-being of their students, employees, and visitors to the campuses. Although the CSU is still drafting a vaccination policy, they are urging the CSU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. According to the chancellor’s office exemptions will be made for students and employees who can not be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons. But all certifications must be completed by September 30th, 2021.
Chancellor Joseph Castro mentioned that campus leaders are setting incentives, such as scholarships, textbooks vouchers or prizes, to encourage their students and staff to get vaccinated.
For further information, please visit the original article or official press release.
University of California
In early July, the UC also announced that it would require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for campus access. The UC policy explains that students and staff must show proof of vaccination two weeks before the start of the fall term.
Guidelines for how the policy will be implemented systemwide are being finalized and are expected to be issued next week. Look for more information from your campus.
For more info visit the official announcement here.
California Community Colleges
Community Colleges Interim Chancellor Daisy Gonzales urged local community college districts to adopt vaccination mandates. According to this EdSource article, at least 29 of the state’s 115 in-person community colleges have announced some form of vaccine requirement for this fall including the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the state.
Everyone says that starting college is a very exciting part of your life but no one really talks about the stress that comes with preparing for college. There are things you need to figure out such as: will you be living on campus or with family? How will you get to and from school? When thinking of commuting you need to take in consideration a checklist that would make your commuting experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make your commute easier:
Whether you are commuting by public transportation or by your own vehicle, one of the most important things is staying safe. Sometimes you may stay in school very late and by the time you head home it is dark or you may need to leave home very early in the morning. No matter the time, here are some tips on staying safe:
Pepper spray, taser and emergency car kit are all helpful tools that can be used during an emergency. Read the instructions on how to properly use these tools and only use them for emergencies.
Android and Apple have an emergency mode on smartphones to help during difficult situations. Depending on the company, these programs allow you to add emergency contacts, call emergency services and put your phone on ultra power saving mode.
More information for apple users, samsung, and android users.
Sometimes you are running late and forget to make yourself breakfast or maybe you did not pack lunch. One way to avoid this is by meal planning! There are many ways to meal plan, it is done according to your lifestyle. If you have never meal planned before, here is a some tips for beginners:
When meal planning, it is important to save on produce! Here are some guides to CalFresh, SNAP, and food banks that may be available near you.
Have a long commute? One of the discouraging things about having a long commute is knowing how to fill in the time.
Student discounts for Apple Music and Spotify
If you have an exam that day, you can review your notes or study guides on the way to school. This is helpful because you are briefly reviewing your notes before your exam to make sure you don’t forget some last minute details.
Discounted Bus Passes for Students
If you will be taking public transportation to get to and from school, you will need a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass can accumulate but luckily there are programs that offer discounts for students! Additionally, these offers have unlimited rides for your semester/quarter.**
- Orange County and Irvine Students
- Bay Area Students
- Clipper Card
- Will be able to use on Caltrain Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, Muni, SamTrans, etc… Check the FAQ for more information
- Must have an income level below $89,320
*keep in mind some places do not allow pepper spray, tasers or anything sharp inside their perimeters
**rules may vary, visit websites for more information
Summer is just around the corner and for some that may mean relaxing and recharging by going on camping trips or just hanging out with family and friends. But for others, summer break is a chance to catch up or get ahead in classes. Taking a summer class at a community college allows students to narrow their focus on a single subject – rather than your typical four, five or even six classes during the longer semesters. Although taking a summer class may not sound like a fun way to spend your summer break, taking these classes offer several major benefits. Here are some benefits if you are considering taking a summer class:
Benefit 1: You save money
Whether you are a high school or college student, taking summer classes at a community college can save you money in the long run. Community college course credits are typically more affordable than those offered at universities. At a CC you may pay only a few hundred dollars or even less than that if you qualify for fee waivers. At a four year university, you may end up paying a few thousand dollars for the same course credit at a CC. Saving money is important even if you are still in high school.
Additionally if you are a high school student and you want to get ahead in your coursework for college, taking summer classes at a CC may put you ahead of the curve when you apply to college. When you first start college, you will be placed at different levels of mathematics or english classes. To be placed in the correct level course, you need to take a placement test. If you took advanced placement or even college courses, these may count towards your college credits and you will be placed in more advanced courses. This is a benefit as you won’t waste time taking placement tests and in classes you already passed.
Benefit 2: You are able to transfer to a four year institution or graduate faster
If you started your higher education at a community college your main goal may be to transfer in two years. For some fields, like STEM fields, transferring in two years may be challenging as there are many courses to complete. But taking summer classes can help you complete your courses faster and in turn, transfer to a four year institution faster.
Since taking summer classes gives you the opportunity to earn more credits, this brings you closer to graduating faster.
Benefit 3: You complete your core courses and/or are able to catch up on credits
Summer semesters are shorter than your fall and spring semesters, this may be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you see this. It may be seen as a bad thing because it means you are learning a semester’s worth of material in five or six weeks. The plus side of this is that you are able to put all of your time and energy into a single subject rather than juggling multiple courses. So if you are dreading to take a challenging course during a long semester, consider taking it during the summer.
Benefit 4: Opportunity to study abroad
If summer vacation is about traveling and experiencing new things, why not do it while getting ahead in your studies? Many study abroad programs take place during the summer, and depending on that the school has to offer, it could be a great opportunity to both learn and travel.
What are college promise programs?
College Promise Programs are commitments to fund a college education for every eligible student advancing on the path to earn a college degree, a certificate, and/or credits that transfer to a four-year university. These are additional programs that students can apply to and get at minimum their first two semesters of community college financially covered along with mentoring, summer bridge, and other academic support.
Who is eligible? What are the requirements?
Eligibility ranges by the program. Some programs ask you to be a first-time college student and some do not. Another eligibility requirement can include GPA, family income, and the number of units being taken per semester (full-time vs. part-time student). These requirements vary by program, however, because California offers over 50 programs, it is certain you will find one for you!
How can I apply?
To apply to a college promise, please follow Catalog of Local and State College Promise Programs to find the list of college promise programs that apply to you. In this list, the college promise programs are split between statewide and local programs. Statewide programs mean geographic eligibility allows students from anywhere in the state to apply, while local programs are open to only those students in the area. This list includes the program description, requirements, and contact information.
Here are two examples of statewide programs that may be open to you:
Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan
- Is available to California residents attending the state’s UC schools who have a total family income below $80,000 and meet other campus-specific grant aid requirements
- Covers four semesters and can be used at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz toward a Bachelor’s degree
- Provides support including textbook vouchers, transportation benefits, and housing assistance.
- Students can be part-time or full time
- For more information, visit admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/tuitionfinancial-aid/types-of-aid/blue-and-goldopportunity-plan.html or contact (800) 207- 1710 or email@example.com.
The California College Promise Grant
- Available to California students who qualify for at least one of the following: Cal Grant, an unmet need of $1,104 or more, is a current recipient of TANF/CalWORKS, (SSI/SSP), has certification/documentation from the California Department of Veterans Affairs, California National Guard Adjutant General, California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, or another public agency that you are eligible for a dependent’s fee waiver; or has a family income equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty line
- The Promise covers four or more semesters and can be used at any of California’s community colleges for a vocational award or for the general education requirements needed for an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
- For more information, visit home.cccapply.org/money/california-college-promise-grantor contact (916) 327-5356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While these are just two of the many California College Promise programs, there are several others that can fit your location and needs. There are people and programs willing to help you as a first-generation college student, all you need to do is apply! College is for you.
Catalog of Local and State College Promise Programs (Pages 10-27)
California Promise Programs Spreadsheet (List Doc, Statewide+Local)