Students Find Success in Metro Academy Programs

After watching Camille Jackson blossom in the Metro Academy program at City College of San Francisco, her mother was inspired to go back to school and continue her own education. This is just one instance of how this innovative program is producing positive ripple effects throughout communities. Jackson and other students shared their stories earlier this month during a Metro Academy briefing sponsored by Rep. Lynn Woolsley (D-Calif.), at the U.S. Capitol, explaining how the successful partnership between San Francisco State University (SFSU) and City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is helping them work their way to fulfilling the American dream.

Panel at the Capitol

SF State Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sue Rosser, from left, Metro Academies Program Director Mary Beth Love and Metro Academies Curriculum and Faculty Affairs Director Savita Malik participate in a Capitol Hill briefing on Metro Academies in Washington, D.C. Photos by Rishi Malik, courtesy of San Francisco State University.

Metro Academy is a structured two-year program, supported in part with a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education, that helps lead students directly to an associate’s degree and then into a bachelor’s degree program. The Academy programs cover all the general education requirements of the bachelor’s and are designed around career themes.

The problem-based curriculum keeps students engaged, and the lockstep sequence of courses shortens completion time and raises completion rates. So far, the SFSU-CCSF partnership has Academy programs in health and early childhood education, with another program focused on STEM careers starting in the fall.

As reported by Savita Malik, the Metro Academies’ curriculum and faculty affairs director, the program adopts many of the best practices in higher education, such as the learning outcomes recommended by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and high-impact educational practices such as learning communities, writing-intensive courses, integrated student support services, and others.

The results have been remarkable: higher persistence rates, higher GPAs, and faster progress to degree. And best of all, these practices are cost-effective. While they require a small additional investment per student, it actually lowers the cost per completed degree, as Jane Wellman—a higher education cost expert—informed the briefing attendees.

Like Camille Jackson, Alexander Leyva-Estrada is another student who credits his success to Metro Academy, from which he graduated in 2010. Leyva-Estrada, a first-generation college student, is now a junior majoring in health education at San Francisco State, and thoroughly enjoying the new world of learning and opportunities that is unfolding before him. Both Camille and Alexander gave moving personal testimonials about their experience during our briefing, demonstrating that success for all our students is possible and within our reach.

Eduardo Ochoa is Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education

1 Comment

  1. GREAT ARTICLE! I wanted to share that I am a graduate student in the Counseling Program at SF State and I am interning working directly with Metro at SF State. I have met with 2 separate co-horts and counsel one-on-one with Metro students regarding academic, career, and personal goals. So far my experience has been AMAZING! Most of the Metro students are first-generation, coming from many diverse cultural backgrounds and underrepresented as well. They all have inspiring stories to share and many feel that they are carrying the hopes of a bunch of people when they attend SF State. The road for Metro students is difficult because these students must create opportunities for themselves, however, Metro helps facilitate these opportunities. When these students open up to me and share their stories with me, it is amazing to see how they keep getting up when life knocks them down. I always tell the students I see that life will always throw obstacles, challenges, and adversity at them, but I do not want that to defeat them, but rather define them. There is absolutely no monetary value that can be placed on the feeling that comes when you know you are and have made a difference in another person’s life. I will continue to dedicate my time, energy, and passion to work with Metro because this program is creating the impossible, possible for Metro students!

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