Partnership was a key theme in describing how the school district, community college and state university work together to encourage and insure that students graduating from San Marcos high schools have a supportive pathway to higher education.
Superintendent Holt pointed out that the Pace Promise program guarantees every graduating senior who meets entry level requirements a spot in the entering class at Cal State San Marcos. “We live in a community that prioritizes higher education for kids,” he said.
President Haynes noted that such a guarantee is increasingly important as the number of applications for the freshman class has continued to go up, making admission more difficult. The current entering class had 19,000 applications for 2,500 slots, she said.
Holt also detailed efforts to reach out to San Marcos high school students through the GEAR UP program with Palomar College to provide workshops on preparing for and getting into college, including help to pay for all SMUSD 10th and 11th grade PSAT tests, an important early round test in the admissions process.
Gonzales noted also that the college is working with the district to help students who take a senior year math course to transition into college algebra.
Gonzales then described the achievements of Palomar College as a “hidden secret in San Marcos,” from its planetarium, the fifth-largest in the state, to its 22 varsity athletic teams, its student radio station ranked as No. 1 in the country, its debate team ranked nationally, and its standing as one of the top three colleges in the nation in graduating Hispanic students.
Haynes, too, touted the accomplishments of Cal State San Marcos in serving minority students, noting that for the third year in a row, more than half of graduating students were the first in their families to achieve a four-year degree.
Over the past 10 years, the most visible accomplishments have been the construction of new buildings, helped with funding from major, voter-approved bond measures for the San Marcos Unified School District and Palomar College.
San Marcos High School, now a modern landmark on San Marcos Boulevard, opened in 2014 and Double Peaks School, the district’s first kindergarten through eighth grade school, is set to open next August. Palomar College is beginning work on a new library and learning center. And a 1,400-seat multipurpose arena now under construction is set to open next fall at Cal State San Marcos.