Pilot Programs and Revamped Matriculation
Approaches Achieved Huge Successes
Despite Budget Cuts and Surging Enrollment
Despite over $5 million in state-imposed budget cuts to critical programs, deep cuts in class sections (fewer classes) and soaring student demand, the dedicated staff, faculty, and managers of the Student Services Division persevered in their ongoing commitment to provide quality services to students. These challenges notwithstanding, student enrollment continued to grow with a record 75,000 admission applications processed and 37,077 individual credit students enrolled. Over 2,400 associate degrees were awarded to graduates, further establishing Mt. SAC’s ranking as one of the nation’s top-tier degreeawarding institutions.
Taking a step back to look at “common sense” matriculation approaches, we embarked on a renewed effort to ensure that students “got past the front door” of the college. Based on student focus group feedback and a critical review of current matriculation procedures, a revamped “front-end” program was piloted in FY11.
For example, instead of waiting until the end of the enrollment process to apply for financial aid, students were encouraged to begin applying for financial aid immediately after filing their admission applications. Instead of just showing up to take placement tests, students were assisted in preparing for the assessment process. And instead of waiting until the orientation session at the end of the matriculation process to tell new students everything they needed to know about enrolling at Mt. SAC, we informed them immediately upon applying.
Nearly 120 students participated in this voluntary pilot project, and the feedback was overwhelmingly favorable:
- “It went above and beyond my expectations. I attended another college and felt so confused that I stopped going. After attending this session, I feel more confident.”
- “I did not expect much usefulness of this session, but I must say this was beyond informative. I would say it met my needs, not my expectations.”
- “I had trouble understanding financial aid, but this meeting made me understand that there are counselors here to help me.”
- “I feel I know exactly what I need to do to register and choose my classes.”
- “Gave me information I would have never gotten on my own. They even answered questions I didn’t know I had!”
- “Very helpful for beginners like myself. Sometimes people are afraid to ask questions and this took care of that for me.”
The Financial Aid Office was selected by MDRC (a social policy research group partnering with The Institute for College Access and Success) to pilot its new “Aid Like a Paycheck” project. It was designed to help students think about schooling as a job—with regular financial aid payments arriving twice a month—to help them balance work and school obligations and manage their personal finances responsibly. Participation levels were sustained throughout the trial periods. During the fall semester, only one of the 79 participants could not continue. In the spring cohort, only six of 54 students were unable to continue. Otherwise, 126 students completed the project and another cohort of 41 was invited to participate in the 2011-12 school year. Student comments demonstrate the success of the program:
- “Because I was paid every two weeks, I could budget and balance my finances better.”
- “I didn’t have to work additional hours— especially during the end of the semester— which allowed me to concentrate on my finals.”
- “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”
Disabled Students Video. Disabled Student Programs & Services (DSPS) staff worked in conjunction with the college’s Media Services Department to produce an award-winning video, “Success with disAbility.” This production won the Most Distinguished Communicator Award sponsored by the International Academy of the Visual Arts. Featuring students, faculty and staff, this video has many uses as it can be used to help educators understand the needs of disabled individuals and the services there are here to support them as well as encourage students who have been reluctant to seek out assistance to enroll in DSPS.
Dealing with massive numbers of students seeking assistance, Counseling, Assessment and CalWORKs departments increased efficiency of online services as well as “in-line” services. Counseling implemented “RUSH”—an automated check-in process that reduced students’ wait time of one or two hours to only 10-15 minutes to see a counselor during peak times. The Assessment Center instituted computerized placement testing in English writing. Instead of having to return to the Assessment Center in person, students may now view their test results on their portals. CalWORKs modified its appointment scheduling system and check-in process, resulting in a 40% increase in the number of available appointments for case management services. The number of appointment late arrivals dropped by 35%.
“ACES” (Achieving in College, Ensuring Success) was launched. Funded by a federal TRIO grant, the program serves low-income, first-generation and disabled college students by providing them the counseling, mentoring and tutorial support services they need to complete their educational goals. Leading the way to serve the 140 new students in this program is faculty counselor coordinator Diana Felix, one of the original (second-year) graduates of Mt. SAC’s highly regarded Bridge Program.
2010 STUDENT POPULATION PROFILE
Credit Student Enrollment (fall semester) 35,242
Continuing Education Enrollment* 43,156
Community Service Fee Class Enrollment 4,693
* Includes noncredit and credit students enrolled in noncredit study labs.
Enrollment Within Service Area
West Covina 15.7%
La Puente 12.1%
Diamond Bar 8.1%
Rowland Heights 7.4%
Baldwin Park 5.1%
San Dimas 5.1%
Hacienda Heights 4.9%
La Verne 3.7%
City of Industry .1%
Asian/Pacific Islander 18%
White Non-Hispanic 15.8%
Decline to state 9.3%
Pacific Islander .5%
Amer. Indian/Alaskan Native .3%
19 or less at 27.2%
20 to 24 at 34.4%
25 to 29 at 12%
30 to 34 at 5.6%
35 to 39 at 3.6%
40 to 49 at 5.5%
50+ at 11.6%
Dr. Audrey Yamagata-Noji
Record $51M in Financial Aid Awarded!
FY11 was a record year for financial aid applications and disbursements. Over $51 million was distributed to qualified students—an increase of 141% from 2007-08, underscoring the impact of a distressed economy. Of that total, more than $36 million was in the form of Pell Grants, while $9.5 million was in Board of Governors Fee Waivers (representing 51% of students receiving financial aid). Moreover, a record 34,716 financial aid applications were processed over the past academic year—compared to 28,430 during FY10, and 17,608 (+97%) in FY08.
Top Ranking in University Transfers!
Mt. SAC continues to be distinguished for its high transfer rates, particularly to California’s two prestigious higher education systems. Transfer rates to the University of California increased by nearly 25% to almost 400 students accepted in 2010-11. Rates to the California State University soared by 78% to 1,350 students accepted in 2010-11. It is important to note that just as enrollment has been curbed at community colleges, transfer acceptances to UC and CSU campuses have also been negatively impacted. Yet significantly more Mt. SAC students were accepted to UC and CSU. This brings Mt. SAC’s transfer rankings to eighth in the state for UC and fifth in the state for CSU. Combining both UC and CSU, Mt. SAC’s Scholarship ceremony transfer rate ranks sixth.