The transition from high school to college is no easy feat for most, but here at PCC, two programs vie to make it as smooth as possible in their aim to help incoming freshmen navigate their first year in college with tools such as personal coaching and financial assistance.
Pathways has been a campus staple for the past five years now in their endeavor to help recent high school graduates have a sense of support.
“They’re taking high school graduates who may feel lost and [forming] a community, and that gives you a peace of mind,” Pathways tutor An’Tron Phillips said. “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this program.”
The requirements to join is not difficult, but involves a minor checklist of tasks:
- Apply to PCC
- Complete an online orientation
- Take a placement test for English and Math
- Apply to the Pathways Program
The application requires one’s placement level in the two disciplines mentioned, as well as other academic information, specifically concerning high school.
As long as one applies by early July in order to receive priority registration, no one is turned away; the only requirement being that one is a recent high school graduate (i.e class of 2017 applying for the academic year 2017-2018). Once they’ve applied and have gotten an approval email, the student must sign up for a new student group counseling session, which goes over the Pathways objectives and expectations from new students.
After this, the student will be assigned a registration date and time for the upcoming Fall Semester, and all students in the program get priority registration. Along with class registration, students will also be assigned a week in the summertime to attend a Jam session.
Pathways Jam is a week-long orientation where incoming students learn about campus resources and develop skills needed for transitioning into PCC. Students are organized into small groups of about 15-20 students, and the group led by a Jam leader, who typically is a current or former Pathways student. The week usually consists of learning approaches, a possible group project, a scavenger hunt, and a campus tour.
Along with these activities, each student will be assigned their coach for the school year during Jam. Coaches are usually graduate students are postgraduates who are working to become counselors. This coach helps students with their requirements, questions and concerns throughout the first year, but with a more personal and one on one sentiment.
One of the most important requirements for the first semester as a Pathways student is to be enrolled in a College One class (COLL1 or First Year Seminar), an introductory college class that discuss study skills, approaching college level research and readings, time management, and so forth.
All College One classes are required to read and discuss a selected book for the semester, which commences with a research poster event and speaker series at the end of the semester.
These events include having a special speaker, usually associated with the book in some way, who comes to have a discussion about possible themes in the text, as well as take questions from the audience. The poster conference consists of groups of College One students from their respective classes, presenting their knowledge on a topic related to the book from the curriculum.
Throughout this first semester, each student also has to complete roughly four requirements which may include meeting with their coach or attending a college-related event. Every Pathways student must complete these in order to stay in the program and qualify for priority registration.
These expectations may seem overwhelming, but Pathways assures that it is worthwhile. The program’s coordinator, Carlos Altamirano, stressed the importance of Pathways, its beneficial effect, and why new students should consider joining.
“You can have a successful first year even if you don’t succeed academically, but having someone support you helps in the long run,” said Altamirano. “If you need a place to call home, you can have it Pathways.”
Pathways counselor Elizabeth Castro mirrored these sentiments as well.
“It’s somewhere you can go, where you know people, who have a face and a name,” said Castro. “Whatever you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it.”
In addition to Pathways, PCC introduced the Promise program in March 2017. This concerns high school students from within PCC’s community college district who have applied for some type of financial aid but still need some tuition costs to pay off where financial aid could not cover. This provides the compensation necessary in order for new high school graduates (or who have a diploma equivalent) to maintain their college goals for the first year without the added stress of fees. In other words, the first year would be free to those who qualify.
These qualifications include a recent high school diploma or equivalent, attendance at a high school within the PCC community college district, and having already applied to some type of financial aid. Once PCC has this information, the student will be automatically eligible for the Promise program. They will then adjust tuition accordingly with what is not covered by financial aid.
The program has deeper intentions that goes beyond waiving a high school graduate’s first year of college, according to spokesperson Alex Boekelheide, who is involved with the Promise Program and their community outreach.
“This is ensuring that everybody has access to college, and it’s a contract with the community,” said Boekelheide. “It takes the cost ‘excuse’ off the table, since some have to work to support themselves or their families, and this makes it easier.”