Getting A Jump Start On College

MARTINA VASSILEVA
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Jump Start students as young as 14 are rushing to GCC by the hundreds in order to take advantage of the many opportunities college offers.

The Jump Start Program gives students the opportunity to take classes that may not be offered at their high school in a college environment, Sharon Combs, Dean of admissions and records said.

It also gives GCC the highest number of continuing students from any other community college around.

“Statistics [GCC Planning and Research] show that 63 percent of Jump Start students continue their education at GCC,” Kim Bryant, of the Jump Start Center, said.

The Jump Start program is in a rush to get the word out to high school students before another community college reaches them.

Every week student ambassadors from GCC visit all public and some private high school campuses throughout the greater Los Angeles area, in an effort to inform future community college students of the benefits Jump Start offers.

“The program’s goal is to introduce high school students to college classes, where a K12 system does not prevail,” said Combs. “Jump Start gives students an opportunity to enhance their high school education,” Combs said.

Taking college classes allows students an inside view of the environment that awaits them after high school is over. In addition to getting an early start in college, students may also be offered AP credit in high school for classes taken through Jump Start. A highly personalized system walks high school students through their first steps towards a higher education. Tours of the campus are always taking place. Groups of students, as young as the eight grade, can be seen on one of these tours on almost any day.

The Jump Start Center, located in room 125 of the Administrative building, is so involved with helping students adapt to the college experience that everyone who walks into the office seeking help, is remembered.

“I know every student that has come through this center,” Avanousian said.

There are also two counselors that work specifically with Jump Start so that they may ensure these students have no unanswered questions.
“A lot of students think Jump Start is to finish high school,” Avanousian said. “That is not the case. There is a separate program that GCC offers to students who need to take additional classes in order to graduate from high school.”

Jump Start is specifically designed to allow students to get started on their college education as early as their freshman year in high school.

Starting out early in college is not only beneficial to students who wish to get their foot in the college door, but also to those who wish to graduate from high school as soon as possible.

All units earned at GCC are worth three times as much in high school credits. What this means to a Jump Start student is that a three-unit class such as English 101 is worth 9 high school credits, or a year-long class.

Credit is earned toward college and high school at the same time. If students begin taking classes at GCC in their freshman year of high school and continue enrolling in three to six units for every session and semester until their senior year, they will have completed over 60 units in college.

In other words, Jump Start students have the option of completing all of their transfer requirements before they even graduate from high school. “No one at GCC has done this yet, but it is a very possible thing to do,” Combs said.

Although they are eligible to apply for admission to GCC as early as their freshman year, students in their sophomore, junior and senior years of high school have their unit fee waived and they receive free parking permits.

Students looking to register should have a minimum GPA of 2.0 in high school, as well as signatures from their counselor, and school principal.

Jump Start students may register in afternoon classes that are made available specifically for this purpose. Despite all of the lines these students get to jump, there are a few things that are off limits.
They are not eligible for financial aid and Jump Start students are also the last ones given an opportunity to enroll in classes. “First priority for registration to classes is always granted to college students,” Avanousian said.

There are usually about 400 students enrolled in Jump Start. This semester there are 350 and the Jump Start Center is determined ot bring the numbers back up. “It’s a really beneficial program for high school students,” Bryant said. [It is a ] great way to start general education requirements.”

Past Jump Start student Simonne Jones, 17, agrees, “I took two semesters at GCC as a Jump Start student. I graduated from high school two years early,” she said.