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Program’s Effectiveness Crucial in Improving Transfer Rates

For Immediate Release

Danielle McNamara


March 12, 2009

Program’s Effectiveness Crucial in Improving Transfer Rates

A relatively small preparation program accounts for more than five percent of all math-based community college transfers in California and more than 11 percent of all transfers from underrepresented groups in those fields. The program bridges the gap between community colleges and four-year institutions during a time when the transfer pipeline is severely clogged.

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) is an award-winning academic enrichment program that provides educationally disadvantaged students with the tools to earn bachelor’s degrees in math-based fields. With tutoring and mentoring, extra study sessions, transfer counseling and study centers, MESA provides an environment that allows students to succeed in math and science and navigate the transfer system more easily. It’s a small program with a large impact.

The California Community Colleges and MESA began working together in 1993 to bolster community college transfer rates in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The collaboration has yielded phenomenal success. Of the MESA community college students who transfer, 98 percent go to four-year institutions as science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) majors.

Currently MESA has programs in 31 of California’s 110 community colleges and serves less than one half a percent of the one million full time community college students in the state. But MESA students account for 10 percent of all Latino STEM transfers, 13 percent of all African American STEM transfers and 20 percent of all Native American STEM transfers in California.

MESA’s track record shows that a strong community college transfer rate is possible. For example, College of the Siskiyous near Mount Shasta has a MESA program that enrolls about one percent of the school’s students, but is responsible for about 41 percent of the school’s transfers. Or consider Mendocino College in Ukiah. Its MESA program enrolls about two percent of the school’s population, but produces 14 percent of its transfers.

California’s community colleges are projected to grow significantly – some school officials expect a 10 percent enrollment increase, making the 2-year college’s role in educating the state’s future work force increasingly important. Just last month, leaders of the UC, CSU and Community College systems announced a joint effort to increase the percentage of transfers from two- to four-year colleges. The hope is to reduce the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree and make four-year degrees more accessible to underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students.

MESA students transfer to UCs and CSUs as well as private colleges in fields that are key to California maintaining itself as a technological leader. More than 14,000 California jobs requiring science or engineering degree went unfulfilled in 2001. As the state’s working population continues to age and retire the number of those with technical degrees will only increase making a program such as MESA even more integral.

For more information about MESA please visit or contact Danielle McNamara at (510)251-1163 or


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