Keeping the Promise

Though enrollment numbers are down, there is one program that keeps its promise.  

An additional 200 students applied to the Los Angeles College Program. Pierce was ready to accommodate 600 incoming freshmen this semester, however, 800 Promise students enrolled, surpassing expectations.

The Los Angeles College Promise is a government-funded program that provides one tuition-free year of college to high school students planning to enroll in LACCD, dissuading students from entering the workforce instead of pursuing an education as LAUSD graduates.

The Promise program increases the number of students that attend college after high school. This benefits Los Angeles and California by creating the “City of Graduates,” according to lacollegepromise.org. The purpose is to allow students to receive a higher education without the financial struggles that come along.

Transfer Center Director Sunday Salter said that to be eligible, students must be LAUSD graduates, complete the summer program and enroll full time in the fall.

Promise students are off to a good start, Dean of Students William Marmolejo said.

“We hope that within this first year, because we’ve been able to cover their resources and their tuition for the year, that they’re not going to worry about that so much, and they will be able to focus on their studies and have that great college experience,” Marmolejo said.

According to Marmolejo, the students have success coaches that have been trained to show them the ropes.

“Success coaches are Pierce College students who’ve been here for two or three years,” he said. “They can share their knowledge with the Promise student they’re assigned to.”

Another goal for the program is for students to stay on track and graduate in a timely manner, Marmolejo said.

“A lot of our students in the past have taken five to six years to transfer,” he said. “Our hope is that our Promise students are out of here in a couple of years.”

Challenges arise when new programs start, Marmolejo said.

“It’s the first year of a new operating student information system. The promise is a new program. There’s been a lot of challenges trying to get a handle on how many students we even have,” Marmolejo said. “In a perfect world, things would go smoothly. These are all things that happen in the first year of these kinds of initiatives, and we don’t expect it to be an ongoing problem.”

The number of students in the Promise program could possibly change, according to Marmolejo.

“We planned for 600 Promise students. That was our goal when last year the district said Pierce is going to be a part of the Promise program,” Marmolejo said. “We are a little over 800 in terms of full-time Promise students. That’s well above our goal of 600, but that may go up with our late-start classes that we started.”

Marmolejo said he hopes the Promise program receives more funding for books and resources.

“It all depends on the funding,” Marmolejo said. “More students that are full time, equals more funding for the college.”

Center for Academic Success Director Crystal Kiekel said the Promise program is exactly what Pierce needed.  

According to Kiekel, the purpose of the College Promise was not to start new programs, but create structure and coherence for the programs that already exist.

“It’s a foreshadowing of things to come,” Kiekel said. “I believe that Pierce will continue to be a leader in this statewide-effort to create a more integrated and coherent student success efforts.”