Early College Promise Promises Made, Promises Kept (x2,500!)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      
December 21, 2020


SAN JOSEFoothill College’s Early College Promise Program, which is aimed at high school students who are historically underrepresented in higher education, has seen over 2,500 students participate in the program in just the past two years County Supervisor Joe Simitian announced today.

In June 2018, the Board of Supervisors approved a three-year effort proposed by Simitian to fund the expansion of Foothill’s Early College Promise program in order to bolster the enrollment and graduation of underrepresented students (including students of color, low-income, and first-generation students).  Students’ tuition, textbook/material, and public transportation costs are all waived as part of the program.

“Early College Promise removes barriers and creates stronger foundations for at-risk students who are less likely to finish high school and head off to college,” said Simitian. “As the program goes into its third and final year of County funding, it’s clear the effort has made a real, meaningful impact on our students.”

Simitian said he was motivated to champion the program because, “If we wait too long to engage them, we lose too many young people who benefit from college and the opportunity to grow their job skills. That’s the beauty of Early College Promise, we reach these students before it’s too late to engage them.”

“And,” said Simitian, “we make that American Dream real for a group of students who too easily and too often get left behind.”

“We need them,” said Simitian, “more educated, more successful, and contributing to the economic vitality of our region.”

Simitian said he felt confident the Early College Promise program would deliver for the County and its students given Foothill’s, “long track record of success, including graduation and transfer rates.”

By offering college enrollment for at-risk students in their final years of high school, Early College Promise builds on the national College Promise movement, which has led to state-level programs incentivizing college – including free community college - for students from demographic groups least likely to attend college. 

"Thanks to seed funding from the County, Foothill College’s Early College Promise has significantly expanded dual enrollment opportunities for high school students in Santa Clara County to access college-level courses,” said Thuy Nguyen, President of Foothill College.

In 2018-19 Foothill College expanded the list of classes already taught in Santa Clara County high schools (The Palo Alto Unified, Mountain View-Los Altos, and Fremont Union school districts and SVCTE – MetroEd) and increased the size of its College Now (dual enrollment) program on campus.

Dual enrollment has increasingly been cited as a way to jump-start students’ college careers. It increases the percent and speed of college graduation rates, and provides high school students with real-world exposure. 

“The result is more high school students, and especially students of color, access and enroll in college early,” said Nguyen. “Dual enrollment is a nationally well-known equity strategy for increasing high school graduation and college-degree attainment for students of color and low-income students. With Foothill’s Early College Promise, we are seeing an exponential increase in students and high success rates for students of color – not to mention decreased college costs for families."  

Dual enrollment also exposes students to the rigors and expectations of college coursework. This preview reduces the risk of dropping out because students understand what to expect. Upon entering college, students who were previously dual enrolled are able to complete their degrees faster because they have already earned college credits. This allows them to save money on tuition and enter the workforce sooner. 

“Reducing dropout rates and strengthening our workforce is a significant benefit to the County’s economy, and to the lives of our students,” said Simitian. 



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