Dear California High School Student, Go to Community College!

Community college to UCLAFormer Skyline College student Alec Roa wrote a compelling article posted on the jobs/networking website LinkedIn. Writing about the reasons why it’s advantageous for high school students to attend a community college, Roa says “My experience at Skyline College influenced a great deal of my article. Thank you Skyline College!”

His article, edited for length, is below. A link to the full article is located at the end of this section.


Dear California High School Student, go to community college!

Something that will instantly remove the negative stigma and shame your peers cast upon you for attending a community college out of high school is receiving your bachelor’s degree from a university you want to go to, in a field you enjoy and find yourself debt free in the process. If you are an outlier that worked hard enough to get accepted to a top 25 school and are fortunate enough to have parents that are a part of the top 10% of earners in California disregard this article. However, if you are a part of the majority that does not fall into these two categories, I would highly advise you to read this article thoroughly. Three years ago, I entered community college with the negative narrative of community college blasted in my ears, it is a narrative that most high school students are constantly fed. Three years later, I left my community college with acceptances from UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara. I left my community college with an Associate’s degree. I left my community college with friendships and social capital I was told I would miss out on. I left my community college with valuable life skills and direction. However, best of all, I left my community college with $0 of debt thus far, along with scholarships and financial aid that will ultimately cover 100% of all my expenses at UCLA. I’m going to list various arguments in 3 separate categories that will hopefully open your eyes to the best-kept secret in higher education.

1. Finances

Instead of pulling out a high-interest loan for the first two years of my education I was actually getting paid to go to community college (Yes, I actually made a profit).

Finances Argument 1: You will save thousands of dollars.

Private Universities in California range from 30k-60k annually, the highly sought after University of California (UC) education averages at around 33k annually, the California State University (CSU) option, which is undeniably the cheapest choice for a student, still exceeds 10k annually when you factor in all expenses. When you compare these three options to a California community college, there is no question which is the smartest fiscal option. A full-time California community college student will only pay around 1-2k annually.

Finances Argument 2: Financial Aid is for Everyone.

Most individuals are under the impression that financial aid is only awarded to those who attend a 4-year institution. This is a common misconception that is merely a myth. The first step starts with filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) no matter what your income level is. After that, your community college will assess your eligibility for two primary forms of aid. First, the California community college system offers what is known as the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver. The (BOG) waives your per-unit enrollment fee (the current rate is $46) at any community college in California. It is important to note that you do not have to be in extreme poverty to receive this waiver, in fact, one million California community college students receive the (BOG) waiver throughout the state annually. If you demonstrate even more financial need on your (FAFSA) the second form of aid you can receive is a Federal Pell grant on top of your BOG Fee Waiver. The Pell grant does not need to be repaid and can award you up to $5,840 per academic year for any expenses.

Finances Argument 3: Scholarships and Financial Programs.

Scholarships are readily available regardless if you are at a community college or a 4-year university. It does take some effort in researching and applying in order to receive scholarship money, nevertheless a great deal of community college students receive at least one scholarship to aid their education. There are various financial programs offered at specific California community colleges. Scholarships are given on both a financial need and merit basis. Additionally, there are government funded programs that are present at virtually every California community college such as TRiO and SparkPoint. These two great government-funded programs can aid with a broad range of needs. These needs consist of the basics such as school supplies and books, groceries, financial planning, to even helping you get your first credit card.


2. Academics

I was taking the same exact course as the students at San Francisco State just at a remarkably lower price tag.

Academics Argument 1: General Education is General Education.

The first two years at a 4-year institution you will be forced to take “general education” courses regardless of your field of study. The general education courses at 4-year universities in California are the same exact courses that you can take at any California community college to fulfill your requirements.

Academics Argument 2: Academic Flexibility.

Community College gives you much more academic flexibility. What is academic flexibility? Simply put, academic flexibility is the ability to do what you wish to do with little to no consequences. In other words, there is significantly less pressure to commit to a particular field of study or commit to school altogether. When you are investing thousands of dollars in a course or a semester, it is tough to back out and switch paths. Whereas in community college, you have the freedom to test the waters to see what you truly want to do in the future. You do not like a course, that is fine. You rather do a trade program, that is fine. You want to work full-time for a semester, that is fine. Community college gives you the option to find your unique individual path.

Academics Argument 3: Professors are highly qualified.

A full-time position at a California community college is a highly sought-after position with a multitude of qualified candidates. Even young part-time professors have their masters finished at a minimum. These professors are highly motivated to help you develop as a student, with loads of one-on-one attention.

Academics Argument 4: Accessibility to professors.

Community college professors have one single job and that is to teach you. With this being said, you will get the luxury of constantly interacting with your professors on a daily basis.

Academics Argument 5: You can still get a degree!

I like to compare an Associate’s Degree to a minor, understanding that an (AA) by itself will most likely not hold a great deal of weight in the job market. However, when you supplement an Associates Degree with a Bachelor’s Degree (BA), you naturally become a much more attractive candidate in the job market. Employers love a candidate that is diverse with a multitude of skills. Community college gives you this extra opportunity to help diversify yourself for the job market, also if you end up not finishing your bachelor’s degree for any reason you will at least have something to fall back on.


3. Chances of getting into the four-year university of your choice

The UC system has a program for transfers at California community colleges which is arguably the best-kept secret in California higher education. This program is called “TAG” which stands for Transfer Admission Guarantee (yes, you read that right “guarantee”).

Everybody is different and we all have unique personal goals, so I will divide this specific argument into 3 parts that suit 3 distinct students.

High school student #1 you got rejected to every school you applied to and are debating school altogether.

High school student #2 you got into a couple impacted schools with 50-75% acceptance rates across the board.

High school student #3 you got into a multitude of great schools 35-50% acceptance rates, but feel admissions at the elite universities got it wrong, you only want to go to one of the top 5 Universities in California you know you belong at.


Read the rest of this article here:

Article by Alex Roa

Spring 2019 International Student Orientation

International Student OrientationSkyline College started the Spring 2019 semester by welcoming over 50 new international students from 20 different countries. In an effort to ease the new students’ transition, the International Student Program (ISP) hosted a three-day orientation from January 7th – 9th where the attendees received valuable information on the following topics: F-1 visa regulations, employment, cultural adjustment, safety and security, immigration laws, health insurance coverage and academic expectations.

The orientation also included the following activities: a student ambassadors panel, campus tour, raffle, placement testing and class registration. The new students were successfully guided through the registration process by the student ambassadors and were ready and prepared for their first day at Skyline College on January 14, 2019.

For many students, it is their first time away from home. Orientation is an opportunity to become acquainted with their new environment and to make new friends. The International Student Orientation is an important event that helps to facilitate international students’ success and it wouldn’t be possible without the student ambassadors who helped to prepare for and support the ISP team during this event.

ISP will continue to provide services and programs for international students as well as for the entire Skyline College community. The next ISP event will be the International Student Mixer on February 1, 2019 and everyone is invited to be a part of this welcome party!

Article by Clair Yeo-Sugajski | Photo by Zaw Min Khant

SMCCCD Study Abroad Program Prepares to Send Students to Florence, Italy

Study Abroad FlorenceOn Saturday, January 12, 2019, the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Study Abroad Program participated in the Northern California Study Abroad Consortium (NCSAC) Pre-Departure Orientation at American River College in Sacramento. The orientation was in preparation for students’ upcoming semester abroad in Florence, Italy.

SMCCCD will send 19 students to Florence for the Spring 2019 semester as part of a cohort of 111 students from the consortium. Faculty and students depart for Italy on February 2, 2019 and return May 3, 2019. Other participating districts include Contra Costa Community College District, Los Rios Community College District and Santa Rosa Junior College. The program is offered in partnership with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). San Mateo County Community College District has participated in the consortium since 1986.

This semester, students in the program will have the opportunity to take courses in art, history, biology and English. College of San Mateo Professor of Fine Arts, Rebecca Alex, will teach four courses in Florence: Drawing I, Drawing II, Old Masters’ Aesthetics and Techniques, and Italian Life and Culture. Professor Alex’s art courses were very popular and filled early on. Students enrolled in her courses have expressed excitement to draw and paint in the home of the Renaissance and world-famous scientists and artists. Professor Alex has arranged to hold many of her classes inside the museums and gardens of Florence and students will have the opportunity to draw sculptures like Michelangelo’s David in person.

In the Old Masters’ Aesthetics and Techniques course, students will make their own paints and materials and will create with the mediums of the historical periods they study. Professor Alex has collaborated with a local art historian in Florence to develop art history lectures to accompany the studio art components of the course.

We want to congratulate two students, Valentin Viera from Skyline College and Ireri Vargas Tello from Cañada College, who were selected to receive scholarships from AIFS. As part of their scholarship, they will share their experiences in Florence with fellow students when they return to campus next semester.

SMCCCD Study Abroad is the district-wide study abroad program housed in the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College. For more information about studying or interning abroad, faculty teach abroad opportunities, community travel for lifelong learners, visiting international faculty presenters and student scholarship opportunities, please contact Zaid Ghori at (650) 738-7088 or You can also learn more by visiting the SMCCD Study Abroad Facebook page or Instagram page @smcccd_study_abroad.

Article by Stephanie Wells | Photo by Zaid Ghori

Skyline College’s New Environmental Building Receives a CCFC Design Award

Environmental BuildingThe San Mateo County Community College District had the distinction of receiving the Award of Honor for a Project in Design at the 2018 Community College Facility Coalition (CCFC) Design Awards. Skyline College was given the Award of Honor for its new Environmental Sciences Building project, which is currently under construction.

This annual awards ceremony recognizes projects that incorporate outstanding institutional features that will enhance the community college learning environment. Jurors said, “This is an ambitious project that recognizes that the college if of the community”. The San Mateo County Community College District was joined at the awards ceremony by DES Architects + Engineers, XL Construction and Swinerton Management & Consulting.

Article by Kristin Moorhouse

A Championed Voice Through Poetry

Poetry Corner Learning CommonsSince its inception on October 8, 2018, the Learning Commons Poetry Corner has been more than a monthly event where an instructor and students gather in Skyline College Library’s lounge area to read Chaucer, Keats, Kipling or the likes while sipping coffee or tea. Rather, it is a democratic, brave space where students express their ideas and voice their concerns about the political climate and environmental, racial or gender issues through the creative medium of poetry.

Each Poetry Corner event was tied to a theme and designed to elicit engaged participation from students and faculty, readers and listeners alike. Participating students and faculty read from contemporary poets as well as their own works.  The first Poetry Corner event held on October 8, 2018 celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month, hosted by English Adjunct Brandon Diaz and featured contemporary Latinx authors.

The second poetry reading event held on October 23, 2018 was hosted by English Professor and Coordinator Rob Williams and also featured contemporary LGBTQ+ poets. This event encouraged active discussions and students to share their personal experiences about the feeling of marginalization as gay or queer students on Skyline College campus.

The last event was held on November 13. 2018 with English Professor Lucia Lachmyr as the host and celebrated Native American Heritage Month. They began with students singing Native American welcome songs to ask the ancestors or God for pity and wisdom, as well as songs for blessings. The poems students read revolved around respecting and nurturing the land of their ancestors as well as reminding their readers that their culture is more than a footnote, a noted figure in a textbook or exoticized characters in Hollywood movies. As Raphael Clark-Faust, former Skyline College student and cofounder of the Intertribal Alliance Movement (I.A.M), declared in his original poem, “I am not your Jacob from Twilight I say …”, and then ended with “Honor the Earth, Honor yourself and Honor the people”.

The Poetry Corner pilot has been successful in fostering student engagement and creating an open forum for discussion and expression through the written art of poetry. This student driven momentum will continue into the next themed event on February 13, 2018, celebrating Black History Month.

Following February’s theme, please submit an original poem, art or both to Professor Rob Williams at by February 1, 2019. Art submissions must be in a JPEG or PNG format. All submission will be considered for publication in Skyline College’s Literary Magazine – Talisman, coming out in May 2019. A few poems will be selected to be read and art work to be displayed in the Skyline College Library for February’s Learning Commons Poetry Corner.

If you have any questions, please contact Rob Williams at, Pia Walawalkar at or Sherri Wyatt at See you at the next Learning Commons Poetry Corner event from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. on February 13, 2019!

Article and Photo by Sherri Wyatt

President’s Innovation Fund Request for Proposals 2019-2020

President's Innovation FundThe 2019-2020 President’s Innovation Fund Applications are now available. The applications are due to Theresa Tentes in the President’s Office by Monday, April 15, 2019 by 4:00 p.m. Do not miss this opportunity to realize your vision for these special programs, services and events!

To download the application, please visit the President’s Innovation Fund Website.

Article by Theresa Tentes

BAM Men-tor Mixer Event

BAM Mentor MixerOn November, 27, 2018, the Career and Workforce Program at Skyline College partnered with Brothers Achieving Milestones (BAM) to bring together 13 industry leaders where they provided expertise and valuable insight as they led candid conversations about race, overcoming barriers in the workforce and achieving career growth as a man of color.

Key leaders in industry engaged with over 20 male students of color involved in Skyline College’s Bam community.  BAM is a student initiative designed to aid, support and encourage males of color at Skyline College.

The Men-tor Mixer event, delivered an engaging experience with key industry leaders in companies such as PayPal, PG&E, Dell, Intel, Yahoo and BAE Systems. Leaders shared their personal experiences in a panel discussion and provided guidance in one-on-one conversations with BAM students. No topic was off-limits to discuss, with industry leaders, getting extremely personal, sharing that being a man of color can be both an advantage and disadvantage in the work world. Barr Stokes, an Engineering Leader at BAE Systems, shared, “being a man of color can be a disadvantage because many times, you are the only one in the room, all eyes are on you and you’re expected to succeed. However, remember that you can bring a unique perspective and take advantage of every opportunity to be at the table.”

A theme emerged as the leaders shared their varied experiences, that it is essential to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It is important to find your community, but not limit yourself, be open-minded, expand your perspective and build community with people different from you.

During the one-on-one conversations with the students, panelist were eager to share their business cards and to continue to support students at Skyline College. BAM students felt the event was incredibly impactful and are eager to collaborate with the mentors again. It was evident a genuine bond had been created between participating students and industry mentors.

The Career and Workforce Development team is excited to expand engagement in the Spring semester where they will organize continued mentorship events, company visits, internship opportunities and job placement partnerships.

Thank you to the Career and Workforce Team for their efforts in bringing together a remarkable mix of professionals and a class act event. Thank you to Michael Stokes, Director of BAM who leads the great work of facilitating partnerships that lead to BAM student’s personal development and leaderships skills, while enabling them to fulfill their educational goals and career goals and thank you to the incredible group of industry leaders who participated.

Article by Laura Dekelaita

Future Ready Conference for Skyline College Promise Scholars

Future Ready ConferenceOn November 13, close to 90 Skyline College Promise Scholar students participated in the Future Ready Conference, a three hour event introducing Skyline College students to Bay Area industry professionals, understanding local living wages and the importance of developing a professional first impression. At the event, the Center for Career and Workforce Programs set up “The Photo Shoppe”, a photo booth for students to take professional photographs to showcase on LinkedIn and to utilize across their digital profiles and resumes. This photo service will remain available at the Center for students to drop in during the academic year.

The welcome address by Andrea Vizenor, Director of the Career and Workforce Programs, introduced students to “The Power of the First Impression,” recognizing the importance of readiness to network in social, digital and interview settings. Then a short activity, led by the Job Placement Coordinators, guided students through developing their own personal “elevator pitch”, encouraging participants to be ready at all times to seize great networking opportunities.

The highlight of the event included a Q&A panel moderated by Ms. Vizenor of six Bay Area industry professionals offering career advice, tips and insight for students entering the work force. Panelists included:

  • Michael Aurelio, UX Designer & Skyline College Instructor
  • Laurel Moeslein, Program & Training Coordinator at SFO Airport
  • Sergio Moreno, Account Specialist at Microsoft (Alumni of Skyline College)
  • Stephen Redmond, Principal at Baden High School
  • Erin Robbins, Developer of Corporate Responsibility
  • Megan Wells, Freelance Writer at Credit Karma

The panelists inspired students with stories from their own educational and career experiences, advising students to be organized, maintain a great work ethic and have a willingness to learn and dress for success. While a range of industries were represented, a common theme presented itself– flexibility, hard work and self-discovery, played a critical role in panelists achieving success and meaningful careers. It was encouraged for students to focus on their strengths and be open to new opportunities. The event concluded with panelist joining students at each table for a more intimate and candid conversations.

The Future Ready Conference was the first of a series of career development experiences Skyline College Promise Scholars will participate in as they move through their educational journey and advance their academic and career preparation in pursuit of their dream job.

A special thank you to the Career and Workforce Team for all of their efforts to create a highly engaging and valuable event and to our industry partners for their meaningful contributions.

Article by Steven Lopez | Photo by Andrea Vizenor

International Education Week at Skyline College

International Education WeekOn November 13 – 16, 2018, Global Learning Programs and Services (GLPS) at Skyline College celebrated International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, which focuses on internationalizing college campuses across the country. IEW promotes programs that “prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences” (

GLPS hosted a variety of global events, kicked off by a welcome reception with the Consul General of France in San Francisco, Mr. Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens. Mr. Lebrun-Damiens spoke of the importance of international education and exchange in a global society and congratulated Skyline College as one of only 10 U.S. institutions in 2018 selected by the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. to receive a grant for the new Transatlantic Mobility Program. This program aims to strengthen the historic ties between the United States and France by diversifying and doubling the number of students from France and the United States studying abroad in both countries by 2025. The grant award is $18,000 to implement a new Study Abroad Program, Campus France, for Skyline College business students to transfer to the Rennes School of Business in France and complete their Bachelor’s degree.

In addition to the kickoff event with the Consul General of France, GLPS hosted a Study Abroad Fair, including a Global Internship Student Panel. During the panel, students who participated in the SMCCCD Global Internship Program last summer shared their experiences abroad in cities such as Cape Town, Hong Kong and Dublin. The Global Internship Program is a new program offered by the SMCCCD Study Abroad office, supported by the Skyline College President’s Innovation Fund (PIF) and the Strong Workforce Program. This program allows students to gain work experience in their field while immersing themselves in a new culture and building invaluable skills for their future careers.

Also planned for IEW were the International Food Festival and Fashion Show, hosted by the Skyline College International Student Program. However, due to campus closures during the Northern California Wildfires, the Food Festival and Fashion Show were cancelled but will return next November for International Education Week 2019.

San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Study Abroad is the district-wide study abroad program housed in the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College. For more information about studying abroad, faculty teach abroad opportunities, visiting international faculty presenters and student scholarship opportunities, please contact Zaid Ghori at (650) 738-7088 or

Article by Stephanie Wells | Photo by Zaw Min Khant

Student Leadership and Equity Summit

Student Leadership and EquityOn Friday, November 30, 2018, Skyline College hosted the Inaugural Student Leadership and Equity Summit. Funded by the SMCCCD EEOC Diversity Grant and the Associated Students of Skyline College and in partnership with the TRiO Club and the Promise Scholars Program, the Summit was designed to create opportunities for SMCCCD student employees and leaders to examine the challenges encountered by individuals impacted through systemic inequity. The Summit was also designed to increase participants’ cultural awareness, social responsibility and connection through meaningful opportunities to interact with one another.

Working with their peers from Skyline College, the College of San Mateo and Cañada College participants had the opportunity to explore and learn various leadership tenets through the lens of equity and inclusion. After a stirring opening welcome by Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, President of Skyline College, and keynote speech from Lasana Hotep, Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs, participants attended the following dynamic and engaging workshops sessions:

  • Strategies for Equity and Excellence in Leadership, Katrina Pantig, Program Services Coordinator, Student Equity and Support Programs, Skyline College
  • Mastering Cultural Communication and Difficult Conversations, Danielle Powell, Professor, Communications Department, Skyline College
  • Social Justice and Socially Conscious Change Leadership, Mustafa Popal, Assistant Professor, History Department, Skyline College

The Summit was masterfully closed by Dr. Jeremiah Sims, Director of Equity at San Mateo College. Students were highly engaged and excited about the information, networking, learning and engagement that occurred as seen in their overall conference evaluation. 144 students attended the Summit and gave it an overall rating of 3.8 out of 4 (where 4 was rated excellent, 3 was good, 2 was average and 1 was poor). Catalina O’Meany, participant in the Summit deftly recapped her experience by stating, “The summit taught me that equality is not always the solution but rather the awareness and provision of equitable service or instruction can provide more efficient results.” As reported by the participants, they are looking forward to continuing their participation in the Student Leadership and Equity Series in the spring through two follow-up events on February 2, 2019 and March 15, 2019.

Article by Amory Cariadus, Eric Imahara, Ellen Murray & Michael Stokes