Pre-college Programs


ETS in the News, Program Highlights, Activities, & More

  • CSUMB Joins Reach Higher Initiative

    Education Digest for May 18

    The Californian

    By Robert M. Robledo

    The Educational Talent Search program at Cal State University, Monterey Bay is joining the First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative this month. 288 graduating high school seniors will showcase their decision to attend college on social media using the #ReachHigher hashtag, and taking a pledge to continue their education, training or career development after high school.

    Educational Talent Search is a federally funded program that helps low-income, first generation students in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The goal of the program is to help students complete high school and continue their education.

    Nearly 1,200 students are served by the CSUMB program at Alisal, Gonzales, Greenfield, King City, Seaside, Soledad and Watsonville high schools. The high school students are provided with academic advising, information about financial aid, career exploration, help with applying to college, college tours, cultural events and other educational enrichment opportunities.

    In May 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Reach Higher initiative to inspire every student across the country to pursue and complete a post-secondary degree – at a four-year college, a community college or an industry-recognized training program.

    The Talent Search

    Alisal Trojan Tribune: Alisal High Student News

    April 21, 2016

    By Gisselle Cortez

    Talent is the capacity for achievement and success but how is talent actually identified? Many talents go unnoticed here at Alisal because of the lack of programs and resources that students have access to. Inevitably, our student body keeps growing and growing making it harder for our counselors to work regularly with their students. Hence, many of our students don’t realize they have any unique skills for the real world. However, CSUMB’s Educational Talent Search works with students who don’t receive the necessary attention to develop those skills.

    For 50 years, ETS has been able to offer low-income-first-generation students resources to get them college ready. The U.S. Department of Education has continued to fund the program over the years which is part of the TRiO branch. The Federal TRiO Programs consist of specific programs targeted at low-income students, disabled students, and first-generation students who need that extra push to guide them down to a postsecondary institution.

    “As a program, we’re not necessarily recruiting students to attend CSUMB but we’re actually helping them go wherever they want to go. We have a big number of students staying local, going to a UC or leaving off to a CSU. Our students apply all around the area,” said Ignacio Aguilera, an Educational Advising Specialist. Twice a week, an Educational Advising Specialist works at one of the seven schools – Alisal, Gonzales, Greenfield, King City, Seaside, Soledad, and Watsonville – involved in TRiO. The counselors work with 1,166 students in total, with up to 200 students at each of the schools.

    Senior Angel Jimenez, who has been in the program since his freshman year feels fortunate to be part of the program. “It was probably the best decision in my academic career,” Jimenez says, “ETS is that extra support that students are unaware they have access to.” Though many programs like AVID, GATE, and Health Academy serve students academically, many other students don’t have a program to depend on for support. Unlike Jimenez, others only have one counselor to go to who usually have too many students to work with. “Counselors do have a lot of students to help, that’s why I tend to connect more with the ETS counselor. He was also a first-generation student like me,” Jimenez says.

    Though seniors are important to the program, underclassmen benefit as well. Sophomore Laura Ruiz says she has definitely benefited from the program. “Before I came to high school, I wasn’t aware of what college was really like. When I joined ETS, I learned more about college.Visiting the campuses exposed me to the differences of each college and the resources they have to offer.” Thanks to the field trips and informational events Ruiz has attended through ETS, she is now confidently able to identify UCLA as her dream school. “ETS has helped me narrow down my options,” Ruiz says.

    ETS provides students with a variety of field trips, at least two per semester. They decide on the campuses they will visit based on the popularity of attendant grade levels. For example, freshmen visit a CSU, sophomores a UC, and seniors and juniors visit a private school. The fourth field trip of the school year is opened to everyone in the program and is not limited to a specific grade level. “We’ve had a chance to do summer field trips which consists of three days, two nights which is completely covered by the program,” Aguilera says. During the trip, the students visit six campuses. They also attend other cultural events to expose students to something they wouldn’t regularly do with their families. Senior Cindy Montoya, a 4-year ETS veteran, had the opportunity to attend this past summer’s field trip down south. “The trip was both educational and fun because it allowed me to visit schools in SoCal that I know I wouldn’t have done in my own time.” Montoya credits ETS for helping her build the tenacity to apply to schools that once seemed very far-fetched. “I’m very proud to say I’ll be attending UCLA in the fall,” Montoya says.

    Apart from the educational field trips, the TRiO branch works to instill students with the act of giving back to communities. It holds a nation wide day to celebrate the program by giving back to the community called National TRiO Day. Last year, the local ETS took a field trip to the beach in Monterey on a Sunday and held a beach cleanup. “The beach cleanup was an eye-opener. I had no idea how bad the trash accumulation has become right here in our own backyard,” Montoya says.

    Because space is limited and there is priority for freshmen, students are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. “This way the students can benefit from the services for their four years in high school,” Aguilera says. Applications are available every fall semester and is open to all those who meet the requirements. The only requirements to apply for the program are to be first-generation, low-income, maintain a 2.0 GPA, and of course, attend one of the participating high schools. The most important thing a student really needs is the motivation to seek opportunities to better themselves for their educational career, which ETS is there to provide.

    Golden Opportunity In The Golden City

    The Mustang Legacy: King City High School

    November 29, 2017

    By Dominic Conricode

    On November 17th, King City High School ETS members woke up early to get on a 3 hour bus ride at 6am to San Francisco. The educational field trip included a visit to the University of San Francisco (USF) and San Francisco State University (SFSU). The lucky students had an opportunity to compare and contrast two different colleges in their state to better prepare them for when they pick a college.

    The first stop was USF, a private jesuit catholic university. An ETS leader who attended USF gave a quick overview of the school. Students were then set loose to roam and explore the relatively small campus. One of the most notable buildings was the Saint Ignatius Church, filled with beautiful and intricate sculptures, paintings, and stained glass. Sadly, the time was limited, as the real event was the next school.

    SFSU, the public state college, was noticeably more active than the previous school. As soon as students arrived, they were handed $10 to get lunch at the food court. Choices ranged from omelettes to taquitos. Just outside of the food court, Islamic chants were sung by students which attracted a crowd and was one of the first signs of the extreme diversity. After eating, students headed to meet with tour guides who would lead them through the college.

    King City and Greenfield ETS were paired together with Mando, a 5th year accounting major. He began in the middle of the school and started pointing out buildings to the students. One was the gymnasium. An interesting fact about it that Mando pointed out was that FC Barcelona practiced there, which was exciting for him as a soccer fan. Another building was pointed out to the students that looked inconspicuous and bland from the outside, but turned out to have an observatory. However, because San Francisco is often cloudy, a planetarium is also inside so you can see what the stars would look like if clouds weren't blocking the view.

    The next tour location was right outside the business building. This was where Mando had his classes. Apparently it had the most amount of students, but was the smallest building. Just to the side of it was the library, which, Mando explained, had different rules depending on the floors. The first few floors were a bit more noisy because it's where people did group work. As you moved up the floors, you had to be more quiet because the students there were studying individually. One great thing about the library is that it's open 24/7.

    Moving on, Mando led the students to the outside of the ethnic studies building. In the past, minority students at the school felt that their point of view in history wasn't being taught, so they held a protest that shut down the school. The building was a result of that protest and is something that the school is very proud of. Now, SFSU has an African American Student Union. There is also a medical building on campus with trained doctors and nurses. Students can go there for extremely cheap with no insurance and get medicine or other aid. One student who was injured during soccer, got an xray, knee brace, and cane for only $14.

    One of the most underappreciated buildings on campus is the fine arts building. It has posters across the walls of movies or plays that students or alumni participated in. One of the most famous of them is Oscar-winning Jonas Rivera, twice honored producer of the year, who worked on titles such as Up and Inside Out. Across from it is a smaller art building for students who want to produce music.

    Carolina Sordia, ETS counselor at KCHS, seemed happy with the trip. The weather was better than she expected it to be. She does wish that more time could've been spent at the colleges though. The traffic was also terrible, coming to a standstill near Hollister, but one can expect that on a Friday night. Because King City was the last of the three schools the bus carried, Sordia was tired and ready to go home when she finally arrived back in King City at 7pm.

    Felipe Cruz, KCHS sophomore, has been an avid ETS member for a long time, attending trips over the summer and during the school year. Cruz has noticed that trips over the summer were longer and spent more time at the destination than those during school time. Still, he wasn't sure what to expect from the trip, but he says it, "Opened up [his] view to new colleges." Cruz thought the most interesting part of the trip was the chapel at USF, especially the fact that students could get married there. "There wasn't anything I didn't like about the trip," Cruz stated. He enjoyed it and thought it was well planned. Cruz explained that "this experience hasn't changed [him] as a student, but it reminds [him] of where [he] could be if [he] tries hard to be successful."

    Noemi Mendoza is another KCHS sophomore who attended the trip. Mendoza's expectations were that the students "would be given basic information about each university." She was pleasantly surprised when she got a tour of the campuses with fun facts, such as SFSU having puppy therapy. The most fun part of the trip for Mendoza was spending time with friends and the most interesting part was hearing college students talk about their personal experiences. Mendoza is content with the way the trip was set up and says she wouldn't change anything because it allowed her to "experience as much as [she] can about college life." She also expressed that it gave her the "chance to learn about universities that are not mentioned as much as others." Despite all the positives, Mendoza wishes that the bus ride was a bit shorter. Mendoza believes the trip gave her more motivation as a student to push herself to get the grades that the universities she visited looked for.

    The trip was an overwhelming success for King City ETS. The vastly different schools put choosing a college into a different perspective. The environments, faculty, and students were different. The only real way to know what you will prosper in is to experience it for yourself; everyone has their own unique views, so you can't depend on what others say. Listen to the announcement and keep your eyes peeled for the next ETS field trip: it could be a life-changing event!

    Mustang Legend Carolina Sordia

    By Daniela Bedolla

    Carolina Sordia was born in Mexico and raised in California. She attended KCHS and graduated in 1992. Sordia expressed that there wasn't a lot of diversity. "When we met with the counselor, if you were Mexican you were told that your only option was working in the fields," said Sordia.

    Some electives Sordia took in high school were Home Ec and Floral Design. She loved Home Ec and they taught you different ways to cook, sewing, and how to do chores. Sometimes they would have contests in Home Ec and Sordia enjoyed it so much.

    She mentioned that there weren't support programs that would help you with college applications nor help students with their homework. "Today, at KCHS has more programs like ETS, Educational Talent Search. This was the first program there was to help students," expressed Sordia. Many of the students that had been with the program, now have their Bachelors, Masters, and some have their PHD. "These students were told that they could never go to school because they weren't smart enough but they proved them wrong," said Sordia.

    Also, some students who were with the program are teaching at the high school here. Like Mr. Cortes, Spanish teacher, Mr. Morales and Mr. Zendejas, PE teachers here at KCHS. Sordia is proud to say that those were students who went through ETS.

    I asked Sordia if she has seen any major changes in King City and the high school. She expressed, "There is more diversity with the teachers and staff who speak Spanish. For my case, I didn't feel welcomed. Nobody spoke Spanish to the parents and if they did, there would only be a few that knew Spanish. Now, we have a principal that we can all communicate with and she is bilingual, which is helpful. Also, our principal has been very supportive with the ETS program." Sordia also mentioned that there is less fighting than there was before and she feels more safe on campus. In the community itself, she said there has always been supportive with the high school and parents always try to help as much as possible.

    After Sordia graduated high school, she went to a university and was able to study abroad. She studied in Japan, Europe, London and a bit in the Middle East. She got her degree at the University of Querataro. She majored in Social and Behavioral Science, Anthropology, and Archeology. After she got her degree, the director of the ETS program was looking for someone to work for the Southern Monterey County area, because they were going to shut this program down. They would have the program in Salinas. So, she accepted the job and was only going to try it for one year but she decided to stick with it, and she has enjoyed it ever since. Sordia has worked for ETS for 18 years. Her favorite moment that happened at KCHS was when one of her students got their letters to UCLA and got accepted. The student who got accepted has his degree.

    What Sordia does in ETS is helping students through high school. She helps all grades and she prepares them to go to the college of their choice. Sordia makes sure they have their four year plan. The program offers workshops, help on college applications, financial aid, SATs, etc. This program is provided at King City, Greenfield, Soledad, Alisal, Seaside and North Monterey County. Sordia only works with King City and Greenfield high schools.

    When she is not busy, Sordia volunteers with the Police at Greenfield. She is an advisor for the Explorers, which is a program for any student who wants to learn about Law Enforcement or wants to be an officer.

    I asked Sordia if she has any advice for KCHS students and she said, "Enjoy high school, but high school isn't everything. College is where you are going to grow up and make the person you are. Just go to school and turn in the homework. No Ds or Fs. Do everything you can and pass those classes. Feel free to stop by the ETS office. We provide a lot of resources!"

    Thank you Caro for all your help!

  • The ETS newsletter is published every quarter. Our newsletters offers program highlights and information on the fun and interesting activities that ETS students participate in.