Los Medanos College

Los Medanos Community College Creating Pathways to Jobs, Higher Learning for High Schoolers

Los Medanos College

(Los Medanos College via Bay City News)

By Aly Brown
Bay City News

A Los Medanos College dean reported this week that about half of East Contra Costa County’s high school graduates don’t go to college.

However, LMC, a community college with campuses in Brentwood and Pittsburg, aims to change that, said LMC dean of student success Dave Belman during a Brentwood City Council meeting Tuesday.

He shared the advantages of the college’s free dual enrollment program, which allows high school juniors and seniors to take LMC classes at their high school campus during school hours for both high school and college credits. For example, students who complete a 3-unit college class through the program will get 10 high school credits.

“It allows them to get introduced to college rigor, explore their career interests before they have graduated high school,” he said, further adding that the courses and all associated materials are offered at no cost to students.

In addition, providing courses at high school campuses during regular school hours helps to reduce the barrier to entry for many, Belman explained.

The program is currently offered at nine traditional and alternative high schools in Antioch Unified School District, Pittsburg Unified School District, and Liberty Union High School District, which includes the three high schools in Brentwood and Oakley.

“We want to see everyone having the chance to engage in this and benefit from early college credit opportunities,” he said. “We really, really believe in the power of early college credit.”

Some students choose to take a combination of early credit programs offered at LMC, Belman said. He shared an example of how a high school student on an early childhood development pathway could graduate with an associate teacher license and the ability to work in a well-paying job.

The courses are taught by LMC faculty at the various East County high schools. This differs from LMC’s articulation program, which offers college credits to students for certain courses that are taught by their high school teachers.

While the challenging dual enrollment coursework might seem too rigorous for the younger students, Belman said they’re thriving.

He noted that about 85% of the students enrolled in the dual enrollment program are passing with a C or higher, and the disparities across race and ethnicity are smaller when compared to other programs, where such issues as transportation might hinder success.

“So what that means is not only does dual enrollment have higher success rates, but it actually has more equitable attainment of those successes,” he continued.

LMC’s overall student body population is predominantly people of color (89%), of whom 44% are Hispanic.

Also during the City Council meeting, LMC President Pamela Ralston shared that the college offers free tuition to first-time college students taking at least 12 units.

“We know that students who are able to attend closer to full-time have a tendency to outperform their peers who are attending at part-time levels,” she said.

Council member Jovita Mendoza said during the City Council meeting that she was an advocate for community colleges and expressed hope that the dual enrollment program would one day offer a police officer training pathway.

During an interview after the meeting, Belman explained that the Tuesday presentation stemmed from a request from City Council members, who wanted more residents to learn about the program, which will offer more than 50 sections of courses across all three districts in the coming year, including an American Sign Language course.

He stressed the importance of addressing the low college enrollment rate for East County kids.

“When you step back and realize about half of local high school students aren’t going on to college right after high school graduation, that means we’ve got a lot of work to do as a community,” Belman said. “And it’s part of why we are putting so much emphasis on our early college credit offers.”

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