Pacheco uses technology to help the students who are headed for college

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comSeptember 29, 2012 

Pacheco High School staff has turned to technology to get experts on higher education to the campus.

Cuca Acosta, assistant director of admissions for the University of California at Santa Barbara, gave a presentation to more than 100 students Wednesday over the Internet. The day's topic was the University of California personal statement.

"Every campus has gone to the comnprehensive process, which allows the campus to look at more than just your grades," Acosta said to students, adding that all nine UC schools look at the same application.

Acosta's 30-minute presentation came replete with slides and sample forms. The students both saw and heard Acosta, and could ask questions via instant message.

Budget shortfalls over recent years have meant cuts to both the UC and California State University systems. Public higher education faces an additional $500 million cut if Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot measures don't pass in November.

Assistant Principal Grace Taylor said Pacheco High, which added a senior class this year, struggled to get college representatives to visit the campus. So, technology was the fix.

"Some schools, their ambassadors are students or recently graduated students," Taylor said. "In this particular case, our students are actually hearing it from an admissions director."

While Pacheco High's counselors are aware of the college application process, Taylor said, an admissions director can provide all the pertinent details.

For example, during the presentation, Acosta warned students to periodically save their applications because nothing is saved if a page times out. She also told them to make use of the comment section -- to explain a D or why the student left the soccer team as a junior -- which most leave blank.

The more than 100 seniors in the theater were compliant with the college-preparatory classes and carrying a GPA that would make them UC eligible and the right students to hear the message, Taylor said.

Counselor Joanna Grimes said the presentations are particularly useful for what will be first-generation college students. The applications are done online.

"For a student going on there for the first time, navigating the site could be a little overwhelming," Grimes said.

Of Pacheco High's 1,472 students, 45 percent would be the first in their family to go to college. An additional 15 percent did not report their education levels.

The administrators plan upcoming presentations, or webinars, on college applications for the UC and CSU systems. The application process for both kinds of four-year university freshmen begins Oct. 1.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

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