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Students Take Express Lane To Success

SANTA BARBARA — An accelerated learning program at Santa Barbara City College is receiving a high honor from the Chancellor of California’s Community Colleges. Express to Success is helping students overcome obstacles to achieve their goals, help students earn an associate degree or transfer within three years. The focus is on underrepresented or low income students who test one to two levels below college level math and English. “I’m a first generation student coming to college,” said Mauricio Isaac. Isaac dropped out of school and thought he wanted to be a mechanic but decided to try out college and enrolled in the program. “Through the success that I’ve achieved here and through the guidance from the counselors and my success in the classes I’ve changed my major. I found out I had skills in me that I really never though I had,” he said. Now, Isaac will focus on bio engineering. In 2011 when the program started, the first group had 247 students. This semester there are nearly 500 students enrolled. Unlike attending multiple courses with different instructors, they move through the accelerated classes in learning communities. That means they stay together through the semesters with one teacher for all math classes and one for all English classes. “They see the same students in all their classes all the time so they’re a community so they help each other, they pump each other up,” said Pam Guenther, math instructor. Cindy Gonzalez is a math tutor who went through the program herself. She is now helping students in a subject she enjoys, but it wasn’t always that way. “I was just going to school, I’m a single mom, I have my own worries, my own troubles and so I never really had the connection with other students until a year ago when I started learning all these study skills that are making me successful,” said Gonzalez. The program is funded through a five year, $3 million grant from the Department of Education. The money helps students with tuition, book costs as well as tutors.

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