Puente Project - College of the Sequoias

State
California
Academic Level
Associate
Issue Area
Retention
Key Personnel

Overview

The College of the Sequoias (COS) Puente Project seeks to improve student persistence and college transfer rates in a county that continues to hover near the bottom of several socio-economic measures. For example, 17.8% of families with children live below the poverty level in California, while the rate is 30.4% for Tulare County. COS students understand the value of higher education, but they face enormous pressures while they are in school. Since its inception in 1996, the Puente Project at COS has served over several hundred students, of whom approximately 99% are Latinos. At present, Puente reaches 100-150 students per year.

Program Description

Puente has four main components:

  1. First-year students take English 251 (Intro to Academic Writing) in the fall and English 1 (College Reading and Composition) in the spring. The content of both courses focus on Latino/a authors and issues. The same instructor teaches both classes while offering extra support to assist students in developing their writing skills. These classes are taken concurrently with Counseling 120AB (Student Success), a study skills class.
  2. Puente students work closely with their counselor, meeting several times each semester to develop an educational plan with a goal of transferring to a four-year institution and for personal counseling.
  3. Students are matched with professionals from the community who share their professional knowledge and academic experiences.
  4. Puente students take educational field trips to universities each year and attend an annual statewide Puente Conference.

The mission of the program triangulates consistent, high-quality academic counseling, accelerated writing instruction, and mentoring to build a strong support system for students. The Puente Club provides cultural events for the college, the planning and execution of which underscore the pride students take in their traditions.

Outcome

The overall COS one-year persistence rate of first-year students with at least six units for 2008-2009 was 65%. However, the Puente one-year persistence rate for the same period was 92%. In fact, from 2009 to 2013, the Puente one-year persistence rate has averaged 82%. Moreover, Puente students transfer at higher rates than the general COS student population (students completing at least 12 units and attempting transfer English or math courses). From 2003 to 2006, the six-year transfer rate of the general COS student population averaged 34%, while the average for Puente students was 58.5%.

The success of Puente is especially evident by comparing the 30% six-year transfer rate (2005-2006 to 2010-2011) of all Latino/a students at COS to the 69% rate of Puente students—more than double the rate.