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October 12, 1998

MESA increases transfers of math and science majors

By Terry Colvin
UC Office of the President

Over a five-year period, a University of California community college preparatory program has produced nearly 90 percent of the underrepresented students who transferred from 11 community colleges to four-year institutions and majored in science, engineering, or math.

From 1992-93 to 1996-97, the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement California Community College Program (MESA CCCP) produced 544, or 89 percent, of the 613 underrepresented students transferring from the community college campuses to science, engineering, and math programs in four-year institutions, according to newly released MESA statistics.

MESA CCCP was established in 1991 as a partnership between the University of California's MESA program and the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges. Its goal is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who transfer to four-year institutions and who enter math- or science-related majors.

In addition to preparing more underrepresented students for those fields, MESA CCCP also has steadily increased the number of underrepresented students who transfer to UC.

In 1992-93, the first year that students completed the program, MESA CCCP transferred 28 underrepresented students to the UC. By 1996-97, that number had increased to 90. In contrast, the total number of underrepresented students who transferred to UC from those campuses has remained relatively flat, from 257 in 1992-93 to 256 in 1996-97.

In 1992-93, MESA CCCP's transfers to UC comprised 11 percent of all UC transfers of underrepresented students from the 11 campuses with MESA programs. By 1996-97, that percentage rose to 35 percent.

"These numbers reveal the need for programs like MESA to expand into more of California's 108 community colleges," said MESA Executive Director Michael Aldaco. "Our country is facing a critical shortage of math, engineering, and science-based professionals. We believe that community college students represent a vast pool of largely untapped talent who can meet this need if they receive the proper assistance."

MESA CCCP provides different activities to encourage academic success.

"Key to our success is establishing a community of learners on each community college campus," said Aldaco. "We show students that they will be far more successful if they work together to support each other's academic achievement."

He noted that community college students often face significant isolation from one another. "These students are commuters, hold full- or part-time jobs, and many have families to support. They do not have an infrastructure of peers to make class recommendations, explain course materials, or help cope with problems that come up. MESA CCCP encourages collaboration as a means to success and our numbers show its effectiveness," said Aldaco.

MESA CCCP provides transfer requirement information, teaches effective study techniques, and imposes high academic standards on students. The program also offers academic counseling and provides role models from four-year colleges and universities.

For more information about the MESA community college program, contact Teri Lee, MESA director of communications, at (510) 987-9356.

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