OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - A state-wide program to help community college students transfer to 4-year schools has found increased success at Mira Costa College.
The Puente Program helps educationally disadvantaged students navigate the complicated process of applying to 4-year schools, while also bringing them up to speed with other students who start their college careers at universities.
"They would transfer, but they were not ready," says Mira Costa Puente Counseling Coordinator Sinar Lomeli. "They didn't have the reading or writing comprehension skills. So they couldn't compete with students who were already there."
The Puente Program began in 1981 at Chabot College in Hayward. It's now in 64 community colleges around the state. The students take two semesters of English reading and writing classes, and also get mentoring and counseling to guide them towards a 4-year degree.
"When I got to school, I was like a dog chasing a car," says Mira Costa Sophomore Manny Ramirez. "Getting into the Puente program gave me a sense of belonging. I could say I belong at college, and I can do whatever I set my mind to."
Mira Costa's Puente Program is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. This year they're expanding to let current Puente students volunteer at elementary schools around Oceanside and Vista. That helps them get public service hours they can put on a college application. It also helps inspire the next generation to see college as a possibility.
"It gives us hope that we're leaving behind something for them to build on," says Ramirez.
Results of the Puente Program have been well documented. Between 2013 and 2016, Puente student enrollment at UC schools has increased by 59%. And 52% of Puente students transfer to a four-year college, compared to just 39% of students in the general community college population.
For more information on applying to the Puente program at Mira Costa, click here.