South L.A. STEM Prep High School Sees 11% Jump in Student College Acceptance
www.pacenewsonline.com | May 21, 2021
As high schools across the country experience lower college-going rates among students as a result of the global pandemic, one local high school is seeing the opposite. Math & Science College Prep (MSCP) in South Los Angeles, recently named a California Distinguished School and one of the Best High Schools in the state according to U.S. News & World Reports, has a 91% student acceptance rate to at least 1 four-year university. The school credits its committed counselor corps for its success.
“Beginning in 9th grade, students have individualized meetings with counselors every semester to discuss goals, grade point averages (GPAs), college and career options and more,” said Frances Olivia Chanco, Director of Counseling at STEM Preparatory Schools.
“By the time they’re in twelfth grade, students should have talked about college planning for the eighth time,” said Chanco.
STEM Prep graduated its first senior class in 2017 with an 80% college acceptance rate. This year’s graduating class, its fifth, boasts an 11% jump with a 91% acceptance rate. Out of 120 graduating seniors, 60% were accepted to and will attend a California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) campus, 30% will attend a community college, 2% will enter the military and 2% the workforce.
More significantly, 56% of the class applied to college with a STEM major, which is more competitive. MSCP serves a student population that is 90.7% Latino and 8.3% African American.
“Many of our students are first generation college students, so they’ll need additional support and guidance – especially as they pursue competitive degrees in STEM fields,” said Chanco. We help them build confidence and gain critical skills so that they’re not struggling the first two years of college in engineering coursework, for example, but stay the course and succeed,” she added.
School officials also say that removing the ACT, a standardized test requirement used by colleges and universities to determine student admission, made a difference for many because it allowed students who can’t afford expensive test prep and often experience gaps in their education, equal access to a four year degree.
It allowed them to be competitive.
In place of the ACT, colleges like the California State University system changed their application to include work experience and other programs, which many students have but weren’t originally captured.
The school also credits its partnerships with college access programs like Scholar Match and Micro College for its success.
“We’ve taken an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Emilio Pack, CEO of STEM Preparatory Schools. We’ve increased counselor and staff support, expanded workshops available to students, increased communication with parents, and made virtual access easier for students, parents and teachers.
We want our students to be successful, have access to high-paying jobs and exciting careers. We’re thrilled to see the result of our hard efforts,” said Pack.