University Promise as early outreach

More than 3,100 sixth-graders from around Monterey County are visiting Cal State Monterey Bay this week to make and to receive a promise.

The University Promise program, which is designed to increase the number of local students who eventually seek a college degree, asks students to make a pledge to complete the required coursework to earn admission to a CSU campus. In return, CSUMB will guarantee them a place in a future entering class.

It is a great experience for them to see a college campus.

Paula Carter, Director of Admissions

“We’re going to ask you to make a promise, a promise about your future,” CSUMB President Eduardo M. Ochoa told the students gathered Tuesday morning in the University Center. “I’m here to tell you that each one of you can earn a college degree,”

Your university

Since its founding, CSUMB has made outreach to students from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties a major focus. Outreach efforts have been organized by different offices and gone by different names, but in the early years, most efforts involved CSUMB staff traveling to local schools.

In 2009, university officials began talking to local school administrators about a more ambitious plan: bringing all 6th grade students to CSUMB to tour the campus and hear that same promise: “This is your university and if you do the work, there will be a place for you.”

In return for making the pledge, the students receive Junior Otter cards, as well as information about what classes they will need to take to qualify to attend a CSU campus.

I’m here to tell you that each one of you can earn a college degree.
President Eduardo M. Ochoa

While the university’s growth has caused it to declare impaction – meaning that it can adopt additional entrance requirements for applicants from outside its service area – students from within CSUMB’s service area of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties are admitted if they meet the CSU’s basic admissions requirements. This fall, 37 percent of CSUMB’s undergraduate students come from the three-county service area.

Paula Carter, Cal State Monterey Bay’s director of admissions, said it is important to have “a lot of touchpoints” to help young students stay on track toward a college degree.

“It (University Promise) really is early outreach. For young students who haven’t been here before, it is a great experience for them to see a college campus,” Carter said.

More images from University Promise

Place for you

While the university does not track students to see which current Otters went through University Promise program, Carter said, “Just this year, we had two students send us their Junior Otter cards to say ‘Hey, we’re here.’”

Yulianna Luna, a CSUMB sophomore majoring in Human Communication, was at the inaugural program in 2009 and she remembers the excitement. “Everyone who talked with us was so excited and so passionate about what they were doing,” she said. “I remember being so pumped up.”

Luna was likely on a college path anyway. Two older sisters were college bound and eventually graduated from CSUMB, but Luna remembers that many of her classmates were not. That visit to CSUMB made everyone excited to become an Otter, she said. “You feel like there is a place for you,” she said. “You are wanted.”