Steps Magazine | New Initiative Champions Higher Learning and Guarantees Admission
Yes, you can go to college...and we have a place for you here at CSUSM!
That’s the message that CSUSM wants K-12 students in the region to hear through a new program known as the Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education—or just simply, the Alliance.
Founded in 2013 with the support of the Price Family Charitable Fund and the David T. & Dorris E. Staples Foundation, the Alliance is a unique, regionally focused initiative aimed at improving the college attendance and graduation rates of students, particularly underserved youth attending school in North San Diego County and Southwest Riverside County.
A Pathway to Higher Education
“We know that education is a passport to social and economic prosperity for our students and our region,” said Alliance Director Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos. “That's why we are working so hard to create partnerships with families and school teachers, counselors and administrators to ensure that students know what is expected of them and how we will support them.”
In 2006 President Haynes signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with San Marcos Unified School District, creating the University’s first guaranteed admission agreement. Today the Alliance oversees nine school district agreements, promising that all graduating seniors will receive guaranteed admission to CSUSM if they meet California State University eligibility requirements and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Not only do the MOUs guarantee admission to CSUSM but they help students become college-ready, qualified to apply to any of the CSU system’s 22 other campuses without needing to take remedial English or mathematics when they arrive.
“Our agreement with CSUSM is like a gift that keeps on giving,” said Vista Unified School DistrictSuperintendent Devin Vodicka. “It’s a wonderful manifestation of our core value of collaboration, and we’re doing it for the benefit of the entire community. We want every student in our schools from kindergarten up to know that college is attainable.”
Initial data already shows that students participating in the programs have higher high school grade point averages and standardized test scores. Once guaranteed admission students arrive at CSUSM as freshmen, their grades are better than their peers and their risk of dropping out after the first year is significantly lower.
A Rising Tide for the Region
At the heart of the Alliance’s mission is the belief that the more that can be done to prepare the region’s youth for success in college, the more the entire region benefits.
Now more than ever, the labor market places a large and growing emphasis on academic skills and educational attainment. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, in 2025, if trends continue, 41 percent of jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree. By working collaboratively with its K-12 partners and the community, CSUSM is doing its part to ensure that more people in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties will have the necessary skills for tomorrow’s jobs, reducing their dependence on the social safety net.
“Teachers and counselors really helped me prepare for college,” said Taylor Harris, a graduate of Mission Hills High School in San Marcos. “College was always emphasized and I knew it was my plan—I had a clear path on how to get there.”
A Focus on Success
Through CSUSM’s nine district partnerships, the Alliance serves nearly 200,000 K-12 youth in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties.
“As we continue to build momentum, we are focusing on empowering families to create a college-going culture at home, raising funds for undergraduate scholarships and fellowships to students, and bringing faculty together from across K-12 and the University to work collaboratively and streamline programs and services” said Prado-Olmos. “We see the Alliance as a regional game-changer, and we are committed to ensuring that more and more students from our region have the opportunity to go to college.”
- San Marcos Unified (2006)
- Escondido Union (2006)
- Valley Center/Pauma (2006)
- Fallbrook Union (2011)
- Oceanside Unified (2011)
- Temecula Valley Unified (2011)
- Vista Unified (2013)
- Carlsbad Unified (2013)
- Murrieta Valley Unified (2014)