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About those policy changes at SDSU…

October 2, 2009 - 2:07 pm

Since CityBeat doesn’t have space in the paper for guest commentary, and because the following is too long to be a letter to the editor, I thought it would be OK to publish on our blog this response to Megan Burks’ recent story on San Diego State University’s decision to change its admissions policy for local students. This piece was written by Lisa Lieb, who works for InterAmerican College in National City. It’s really a press release for InterAmerican College, but that’s OK, because it’s a direct response to a news story of local importance.

SDSU Cuts Force Local Hispanic Applicants to Seek Alternate Education Plans

California’s budget crisis has now hit home. In President Weber’s fall 2009 convocation address, he estimated that if 22,000 eligible applicants rejected by San Diego State University (SDSU) this year stood in single file to enter campus, the line would stretch 8.4 miles. SDSU announced on its website, “All applicants are strongly encouraged to have alternate education plans.”

Changes to SDSU’s 2010 Admissions Policy include the elimination of “local guarantee of admission” for San Diego’s local students. All students, regardless of their San Diego roots, must apply to the same application pool.

SDSU students will now be forced to declare a major and apply directly to the program, rather than to the college at large. Applicants will be ranked by their Eligibility Index (SAT/ACT scores and GPA). All SDSU pre-majors and majors will be deemed “impacted” or full and SDSU website warns, “There will be a limited number of enrollment slots in each pre-major.” Furthermore, spring 2010 and 2011 applications are closed. Students who would go straight to college must wait until the fall semester to get started.

Hispanic high school seniors preparing to enter college are taking the SAT entry test at record numbers. Hispanics represented the fastest growing group of minority test takers according to College Board 2009 statistics. Yet, Hispanics’ average score was 152 points lower than the average total score of 1,509. Local Hispanic students will be hardest hit by SDSU’s policy change.

Hispanics are ranked by 2008 U.S. Census Bureau the largest group in all ages under 18 years old in San Diego County. On the flip side, over 63 percent of San Diego’s aging Caucasian population is 55 years and older. The citizens of San Diego need Hispanic students to be college educated to strengthen our city’s future work force and economy.

SDSU closed its South Bay campus in National City, where almost 60 percent of the city’s population is Hispanic. But, one university in National City picked up the slack. InterAmerican College (IAC) caters to the Hispanic community with over 68 percent Latino faculty teaching a predominantly Hispanic student body.

IAC is one of only four Latino Colleges in America. San Diego locals can graduate from a San Diego college and remain in San Diego to educate future students. Ivan Barrera earned his bilingual teaching credential at IAC and went on to teach at Memorial Academy in Logan Heights. Ivan teaches the children of Latino immigrants and says, “One hundred percent of my kids are Spanish speakers. Half of them were born here and they’re still learning the English language.” “There’s an immediate bonding,” he said. “I know where they’re coming from. They know where I’m coming from.”

This education continuum allows IAC students to stay in San Diego rather than moving outside of the area to attend college elsewhere. IAC freshman students can live at home, rather than future SDSU out of town freshman, who must live on-campus. IAC graduates, like Ivan, can stay and contribute to San Diego’s workforce.

SDSU’s admission policy changes include 100% of college transfer coursework completed from local community colleges, including all general education and major prerequisites with a 2.4 minimum GPA.  Many current SDSU Hispanic students, like Gisselle Mejia’s worry about her high school friends in the Hispanic community who attended community college first to save money before heading to SDSU. Gisselle fears, “My friends didn’t know about SDSU’s new admissions policy two years ago when we graduated from Hilltop High [in Chula Vista]. Now, I don’t know if they’ll be able to transfer to SDSU.”

Hispanic families will no longer be able to depend upon the local admissions guarantee to send their children to their local college. Israel Alarid, a local graduate of Sweetwater High School in National City states, “I’m the first of my Hispanic family to attend or graduate college. At least a quarter of SDSU’s student body is Hispanic. I’m so thankful I graduated before these changes.” Now, Israel will have to postpone returning to SDSU for his Masters degree, since SDSU’s efforts to limit enrollment growth include eliminating spring 2010 graduate admissions cycle.

Both Gisselle and Israel attended school in the Sweetwater Union High School District, where InterAmerican College (named to reflect its bicultural and bilingual faculty and students) is located. IAC offers many of the same majors as SDSU and specializes in Bilingual Teacher Education and Healthcare (both impacted SDSU majors). In addition, IAC students learn about their Hispanic heritage through Chicano Studies. In fact, IAC’s founders were the first and only educators to write and publish a textbook on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in Spanish.

President Weber blames state budget cuts of $571 million for the California State University system-wide reduction this year and next by 40,000 undergraduate students.  San Diego State will be reducing its enrollment by 4,588 undergraduates. IAC encourages SDSU’s applicants to call (619) 477-6310 or visit to inquire about attending IAC online or on-campus, transferring credits, and affordable tuition fees, which fall within Title IV loan limits.

IAC offers evening classes and flexible course scheduling. IAC advisors also provide immigrants, who have completed a college degree in their home countries, U.S. orientation and transcript validation.

For more information on this press release, please contact Lisa Lieb at (619) 574-0400.

One Comment leave one →
  1. John E. Utah permalink
    October 6, 2009 - 1:06 pm 1:06 pm

    Am I seriously the only mexican that benfits from this policy and will be able to go back to school since SDSU no longer gives a helping hand? Awesome! Now i don’t have to try and claim that i’m an illegal in order to further my education.

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