On Tuesday, Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, visited Deer Valley High School in Antioch.
Napolitano, is the former Secretary of Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, former Governor of Arizona, and former Attorney General of Arizona.
She was on campus to meet with high school counselors and discuss how schools can better help students reach the UC school system. She then spoke to students in an assembly.
Deer Valley High School Principal Ken Gardner stated the school assembly was a great experience to all while adding that prior to the assembly, having the high school counselors meet with Napolitano had a huge impact.
“I think having all of the district high school counselors there had a huge impact on their perception of the UC system Our counselors are dedicated and very well trained, but sometimes hearing from the source on what the students need is important to validate what they are doing with and for the student,” said Gardner. “In having the open and honest dialogue, we could clear up misconceptions about admission and financial aid, making our jobs easier when we speak to the students.”
He added that it’s not every day you get the President of the UC System no campus.
“My take away is that she and her staff really care about students and wants the UC system to be accessible to all students regardless of socio-economic status. President Napolitano was honest, forthright and brought solid information to support her supposition that all students can achieve and go to a UC in the state of California,” said Gardner.
Stephanie Anello, AUSD Superintendent called Napolitano’s visit an honor saying it was an eye opener for students to hear how they can get into the UC System.
“Students were highly engaged as Ms. Napolitano and other guest speakers challenged them to persevere when faced with difficulties and to believe that they could attend a UC school. Most importantly, she reminded students that each one of them could change the world,” said Anello.
“Advising these students and helping them raise their expectations for themselves that they can do that. The University of California we want them to be prepared academically,” said Napolitano. “The UC system can be rugged, but we want for California high school student to know the UC system is here and here for them. For those who want and think they want a university like UC, some of your students might want to start at community college. Sometimes kids are not ready, or other reasons at home, they don’t know what they want to do, maybe a little growing up to do, but what we are aiming for to have a 2-to-1 from transfer to true freshman. We are just about there, right around 29%.”
She noted those who want to transfer to UCLA, San Diego Cal Berkley—those are a little tougher to get in so the pathways are a good way to go.
“Last year the transfer pathway is a good way,” said Napolitano. “Last year the admission rate for transfer students was right around 70%. It is a real portal. For all students, we are making a push to increase enrollment in California.“
Napolitano stated that this fall, they had a goal of adding 5,000 California student’s above what they had the year before—they had about 6,000 by the time everyone enrolled. In the upcoming year, they want to add another 2,500, the next year after that another 2,500.
“This three-year cycle we are adding 10,000 more in state California residents. It’s a great time to be in High school and thinking about the University of California,” said Napolitano.
Napolitano said cost is an issue and where the UC system could really use the help of counselors.
“When you look at the whole system, 55-60% of the students will be admitted to one of the schools they checked off. If they quality, if they are eligible, we offer every student a seat,” explained Napolitano. “If they do the work, that is their part of the deal. Our part of the deal is to get them in and help meet their expectations.”
She further explained that counselors could help the UC system by cutting through the chatter about perceptions that might exist as well as costs.
“In-state-tuition is about $12,800 and it has not gone up for six years. It’s been frozen,” said Napolitano. “It may go up next year. The regents will have to decide that in January, but if it does it will be between 2-to-3 percent.”
She highlighted that the University of California for in-state tuition is very robust and says counselors can help the UC system by assisting “aid eligible” families who make less than $80,000 per year—can qualify for the blue and gold program which means no tuition or fees for the University of California.
“Last year 57% of our in-state tuition residents paid no-tuition. That is a pretty awesome number,” says Napolitano. “When you add the so-called middle class scholarship that is kicking in now that means anybody from a family that makes up to $150,000 per year will get a substantial aid on their tuition.”
Napolitano also noted how there are financial aid programs and packages because tuition and fees are only one-third of the cost of college due to having to eat and have housing.
“There are a lot of grants, scholarships, work study loans so that over half our students end up graduating, “ said Napolitano. “So when you are advising these students, help us cut through the financial stuff. This is an investment in themselves and in their future. We have to do everything humanly possible to help them get at least a bachelor’s degree. And no debt if we can do it right.”
She highlighted graduation rates where two-thirds of students graduate in 4-years and 90% within 6-years.
“You can help us advise on these students about that and what doors having a bachelor’s degree opens. Many of our students will end up going onto grad-school,” says Napolitano. “You get new experiences, learn about new subjects that you didn’t have in high school. If we do it right and they do it right, they will find their passion and their work life.”
She advised the counselors that they could really help the UC system by helping them find new ways to reach students. She says they try and do things on social media, working with advisors, but looking for other ways they can improve.
“One of the things we are trying to do is bring more students and parents to visit campuses. It’s so different to see it than to read about it,” says Napolitano. “
Shortly after meeting with counselors, Napolitano visited with students who were interested in the UC System schools. She then spoke at a school assembly.