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Promoting student success: ABC and the San Diego Community College

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Training the work force of the future is crucial to the economic prosperity of the region. To meet this need, the instructional program for the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Apprenticeship and Craft Training Program was developed as a partnership between ABC and the San Diego Community College District.

Apprentices and craft trainees receive college credit from San Diego City College and can receive a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science Degree in the trade upon completion of the program.

Programs of study are approved by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, and instructors are Adjunct Professors of the college.

All California apprenticeship programs are conducted in partnership with a local educational agency (LEA). By law, this must be a community college, regional occupational program (ROP), or adult education program. The San Diego Community College District goes above and beyond the minimum LEA expectations by providing a wide range of student support services for apprentices and craft trainees as well as prospective applicants to the programs.

For example, applicants to the programs are required to pass an entrance examination in English and math. In the past, at least half of those taking the test failed to meet the minimum grade level requirements to enter the program.

District Apprenticeship Program staff worked with the Continuing Education division of the district to refer applicants to review courses customized to prepare applicants for the entrance exam. These courses are offered in an open entry-open exit format and are offered day and evening hours at a variety of locations in the area. Pass rates on the entrance exam have risen as a result of these courses. In addition, electrical applicants can earn credit in algebra to qualify for the program.

Once in the program, apprentices and craft trainees are served by Nancy Helt, a full-time college counselor assigned to apprenticeship and trade programs. Before Helt was hired, it was rare for ABC students to receive the degree or certificate from the college since doing so required scheduling an appointment with an on-campus college counselor and petitioning to graduate.

Helt meets with students at the ABC Training Academy and works with them to request and evaluate transcripts from prior colleges in order to complete the graduation petition process. The staff at ABC assists with gathering the paperwork needed for the enrollment and counseling processes.

Helt also counsels apprentices on issues related to increasing promotional opportunities through general education and transfer opportunities. As a result, every apprentice who completes the program receives a college degree or certificate of achievement, and may also receive journeyman certification from the state of California.

Helt's additional services include providing information about scholarship opportunities, financial aid, work experience credit, and the opportunity to participate in the City College graduation ceremony held at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

Helt is also working with California State University Dominguez Hills and Fresno State University to accept apprenticeship trade courses for transfer credit into technical degree programs at these universities.

Students, staff, faculty and the apprenticeship committees have responded positively to the success of this partnership and the continuing improvement of the instructional program.

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