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Santa Monica College Announces “Priority Enrollment” for Local High School Students and Residents HOME ad for NO on LV Initiative link
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By Lookout Staff

October 11, 2016 -- Santa Monica College officials on Monday announced a new program that gives Santa Monica and Malibu residents and high school graduates a chance for “priority enrollment,” an effort that could add more local newcomers to an institution that attracts much of its enrollment from outside the area.

Effective this winter semester, which starts January 3, the program marks the first phase of SMC’s “Santa Monica Promise,” due to be launched in the fall of 2017, said Grace Smith, a SMC spokesperson.

November 22 is a key date, she said. To qualify for the program, local residents and students must have applied and completed pre-enrollment orientation by then.

Assessment and educational planning also need to be finished by that date, Smith said.

Priority enrollment is restricted to those enrolling in for-credit courses.

Enrollment for the winter semester starts in early December.

Critics of SMC complain enrollment at the mostly two-year college is heavily comprised of students from outside of the area, including foreign countries.

Santa Monica High School, the largest local public high school, was the “last high school attended” for 4 percent of SMC students, according to statistics from fall 2014.

Slightly more than 12 percent of its students are from foreign countries, SMC says.

Total enrollment this spring was 29,257 students, officials said, about a third of whom were enrolled fulltime, taking courses totaling 12 units or more.

SMC officials say resident use of the college is strong, with 27,000 Santa Monica and Malibu residents having attended SMC in some form during the past decade.

Also, about 10 percent of Samohi students attend the college through dual or concurrent enrollment programs and 40 percent of Samohi graduates attend the college “either directly or within a few years after graduating.”

Still, SMC is under public scrutiny as it tries to win passage of a proposed $345 million bond measure on the November 8 ballot ("$345 Million Santa Monica College Bond Measure Placed on Ballot," July 7, 2016).

Among the projects that could be funded by the bond are rebuilding the main campus’ art complex and two classroom buildings that date back to 1952, as well as the remodeling of the school's business building.

SMC’s new priority enrollment program is open to current residents of Santa Monica and Malibu.

Also eligible are graduating seniors and alumni of Santa Monica High School, Malibu High School, Olympic High School, St. Monica Catholic High School, Crossroads School, New Roads School, Pacifica Christian High School and Lighthouse Academy (regardless of home address), Smith said.

F-1 visa students are not eligible, Smith said.

"I am thrilled that we will now offer priority enrollment to our district residents and local high school graduates,” said Dr. Louise Jaffe, chair of the SMC Board of Trustees.

Sylvia Rousseau, co-interim superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), was also pleased with the announcement.

“This is a great opportunity for our current high school seniors,” she said.

Smith said the state also requires certain populations, such as veterans and foster youth, to be granted priority enrollment.

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