GEAR UP for College Summer Program At MiraCosta College

A record number of high school students in Oceanside took part in an intensive summer college preparatory program at MiraCosta College as part of a partnership between MCC GEAR UP and the Student Equity Department to increase the number of participating students who are prepared for and succeed in college.

MiraCosta College is located in north San Diego County and serves approximately 15,000 students. MCC’s GEAR UP partnership with Oceanside Unified School district focuses on these objectives: Summer Program Application and Essay, College Online Application & Concurrent Enrollment, Mandatory Parent-Student Orientation, Monday-Thursday 4 week College Courses, Full day IA support in college class and academic support, and Graduation Ceremony including family, MCC/OUSD/GEAR UP partners.

img_1830GEAR UP for College is an innovative, four-week program that offers college-level courses, tutoring, textbooks, meals and more for participating juniors and seniors at Oceanside and El Camino high schools. It is part of GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, which is aimed at increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enroll at and succeed in college.

Fifty-eight students from Oceanside and El Camino high schools took part in GEAR UP for College at MiraCosta College in 2015. This year, that number nearly doubled to 115 students.

“MiraCosta College and the Oceanside Unified School District are committed to ensuring all students have access to a quality higher education, and we are pleased to see a record number of high school students taking part in the GEAR UP for College program this summer,” said Julie Johnson, who directs the GEAR UP program at MiraCosta College.

This year’s four week program began in June and ran Monday through Thursday. The 115 high school students are spending their mornings in Communication 101 (Public Speaking) and Sociology 101, both of which are transferable to colleges and universities. Afternoons are spent working with instructional assistants to make sure students understand their morning lessons. In addition, eight guest speakers from throughout the community are invited to talk about their life experiences with the students during the 16-day program.

Success of this program include: 

  • 115 participated in the four week program.
  • 97% of participating, low GPA students, received college credit 
  • 114 students passed their college class, achieving a 99% success rate
  • Students reported that they felt more confident in their voice and to speak in situations
  • Significant increase of participating students’ involvement in GEAR UP activities, programs, events, and services
  • Increased of GEAR UP parent involvement in workshops

Despite their young age, the high schoolers are treated no differently than college students, and course content is exactly the same as offered to traditional college-aged students.

GEAR UP for College, had a profound impact on students who took part when it was introduced for the first time last year at the Oceanside Campus. Luis Flores, then a high school junior, was among the participants who enrolled in a college communications course last summer.

“I knew nothing about communication and was terrified because it was a college level course,” he said at the time. “Now I realize it’s not that difficult, especially if we use all the resources available to us like academic support.”

GEAR UP is funded through a seven-year, $7-million grant awarded to MiraCosta College to work with Oceanside Unified School District in serving students in the classes of 2017 and 2018 when they were at Chavez Middle School and Jefferson Middle School beginning in 2011. The program last year earned the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce’s Innovator Award.

GEAR UP for College is also funded through the MiraCosta College Student Equity program.

img_1792“GEAR UP for College is an innovative way to get young students excited about and prepared for college,” said Dr. Sunny Cooke, superintendent/president of MiraCosta College. “The results have been impressive and it only made sense to expand the program this year.”

The outreach necessary to achieve such a high level of success was not easy. GEAR UP staff had to go out to the high schools and register each student for the program, and focused on students who would benefit most from exposure to college material and experiences the most, not just the students who were already college bound. Connecting with families and parents was key in making sure the support for the enrolled students were there, as was the tutoring and mentor support provided by GEAR UP and MCC.

A holistic approach to preparing students for college is what works, and is exactly what GEAR UP 4 College did.

“GEAR UP for College is an incredible program developed to provide college access and success for our GEAR UP students while still in high school.”
Julie M. Johnson
Director, GEAR UP Partnership
MiraCosta College/Oceanside Unified School District
For more information on MCC GEAR UP, check out their website. MCC GEAR UP is a participant and founding organization of the California Partnership Initiative.