August 5, 2002
UCSC in the News
At the heart of UCSC's K-12 outreach efforts, the Educational Partnership
Center works year-round to encourage youngsters to start preparing early
for college. Outreach counselors work at regional high schools to help
students meet admission requirements, and a bevy of campus programs are
designed to demystify college for prospective students, many of whom will
be the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree.
At Watsonville High School, the center's work is apparent in the largest
number ever of graduates who are heading to college this fall. The story
below appeared on the front page of the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian
on July 26, 2002. It is reprinted with permission.
College admissions soar at Watsonville High
By Dave Brooks
The words "college preparation" aren't always the first things
that come to mind when one thinks of Watsonville High School. Yet with
the success of this year's graduating class, that is all about to change.
Citing the largest number of students going to a four-year school ever,
Watsonville High will be sending 110, or 20 percent, of its graduating
class to four-year colleges throughout the country.
As far as Lake Forest, Illinois, to Brigham Young University in Utah,
Watsonville is spreading out its students all over the map. The majority
of students will be attending school in California, with 50 going to University
of California campuses and another 44 heading to state colleges.
Equally impressive is the whopping 275 students, roughly half the senior class, who will be extending their education by going on to community college.
By far the highest amount of college-bound seniors in any year, the 75
percent increase stems from a collaboration between WHS and the UC Santa
Cruz Educational Partnership Center (EPC).
"We are seeing what happens when high schools, colleges, and the
community all dance together to help our students get admitted to college,"
said WHS Principal Larry Lane
The EPC, started in 1998, works with educators, community leaders, and
students to ensure that more students are college-bound. Sixty-two percent
of students accepted into college attended the EPC's preparation program
that includes admission exam preparation, application completion, and
"Young people need to know that if they work hard and challenge
themselves they can make it," said valedictorian Kari Edwards. Accepted
at Fresno State University, Edwards plans to study interior design and
one day open up her own boutique. She says she's looking forward to college
because, "it will be a great opportunity to meet new people and live
in a different environment."
The secret to the program's success is to steer kids in the right direction.
"We individually track hundreds of kids starting in ninth grade,"
said program coordinator Laurel Perotti. "We try to identify which
students are only missing a few classes and get them the courses they
need for a successful career."
One of the most important things students need to be prepared for college
is math ability.
"Algebra is the gateway to college admission, and if a student can't
pass the course by ninth grade, their ability to secure admission at a
four-year school lessens."
To help ensure success, the program re-teaches algebra during the summer
to students who previously failed the course. "This year 65 percent
of the students who participated in the course passed," said Perotti.
Another important element of the school's success was lowering its absenteeism.
"The teachers now use a computer-automated system which calls home
to parents each time a student misses a class," said Perotti. Playing
a message in both Spanish and English, the system "acts as a partner
between educators and parents to motivate young people to go to class."
Perotti believes that the numbers of college admissions will continue
"This has the potential to have a snowball effect. As students see
their peers and siblings going away as the first members in their family
to attend a university, they become motivated and want to do something
with their lives," said Perotti.
College admission doesn't change the way these students are seen by others, it changes the way they see themselves. "The culture around these kids has begun to change. More students are looking at themselves as university material with the chance to make something of their lives."