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MOU increases university accessibility for Vista students

REGION — Cal State University San Marcos and the Vista Unified School District have joined together to help improve university accessibility for Vista youth. 

At a ceremony on Tuesday morning, administrators and students representatives gathered inside the president’s boardroom to witness CSUSM President Karen Hayes and VUSD Superintendent Devin Vodicka sign the official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The document provides the framework for a program that will provide increased college preparation, guaranteed admission and ongoing academic support to qualified graduating seniors, beginning with the class of 2017.

“This comes as such a gift in a climate where it is so difficult for students to get into a university,” said Brett Killeen, VUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Relations. “It means a lot and we are very grateful.”

To qualify for guaranteed admission, students must be enrolled in the district all four years and meet the minimum CSUSM eligibility requirements. Students must also maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA, pass the Early Assessment Program their junior year and take the SAT or ACT exam.

Killeen said he thinks the program will greatly increase the likelihood of graduating seniors enrolling in college.

“I think there will be a lot of support around challenging classes, like Algebra 2 that are sometimes the barrier,” Killeen said. “We’re going to work very hard so that those kids who were not qualified before will have a chance of making it.”

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment makes targeted visits to MOU districts throughout the year and works closely with seniors to ensure they’re on track, said Patricia Paldo-Olmos, Director of the Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education at CSUSM.

“These documents are very important in the role we play as an institution of choice in the region and one that is supportive of economic and social development,” Paldo-Olmos said.

CSUSM first started signing MOUs with regional school districts in 2009, starting with San Marcos Unified. Since then, more than five other districts have joined the program.

Paldo-Olmos said statistics show there has been a marked increase in the number of students enrolling in the university from the districts that are a part of the agreement.

“Families in the district are greatly impacted,” Paldo-Olmos said. “When they’re thinking about their student’s future, they will have a definite goal and something to plan for.”

Paldo-Olmos said the university is currently working out more MOUs with other districts in the region and hopes to put them into effect within the next year.