Help for Underserved Students: Taking Advantage of College Support Programs

A senior at California State University, Northridge, describes her experience participating in academic support programs for low-income, educationally disadvantaged, and first-generation students.

Everyone needs a little help now and then. Asking for help is a sign of strength and a desire to grow. Some people may feel embarrassed or too proud to accept a helping hand. But the power to accept help, or to at least exclaim the need for help, is the first step to improving and advancing your future.

During my junior year in high school, I knew I needed assistance in my education and for my post-secondary plans after high school. I was fortunate to be introduced to a beneficial program: the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP).

As a part of EAOP—a statewide college preparatory program for underserved students sponsored by the University of California—I had to meet with the program coordinator at least once a month. I did not see this as an obligation, but as a beneficial practice. The coordinator was beyond helpful and pushed her students to surpass others’ expectations. We discussed my plans for next semester’s classes and problems arising in my current classes. She made sure all students were maintaining a high GPA, and if students had concerns, she arranged for tutoring and special programs to assist them. Being able to meet with her helped me plan my short-term and long-term goals. In addition, receiving an outside perspective helped me expand my views.

She was aware of all her students’ interests and matched them with possible programs they would be interested in. The summer before my senior year of high school, she introduced me to the Summer Sessions Research Mentorship Program at University of California, Santa Barbara, where I participated in a Chicano/a research study. This improved my research, public speaking, and study skills.

There are many programs like EAOP that assist students, and they are made up of people who are ready to make you their priority. EAOP was the first program that changed my educational life and furthered my interest in another program at college: the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

I attended Ventura College and Moorpark College after high school. After two years of community college, I am currently attending California State University, Northridge (CSUN). During my entire college education, I have been a part of EOP. Similar to the high school program, EOP provides services to low-income, educationally disadvantaged, and/or first-generation college students. It offers tutoring, grants, book vouchers, bus passes, and opportunities for community service like food drives. EOP also assists in the transitional experience for first-time freshmen and first-time transfer students. There are people ready to provide mentoring and tutoring for all subjects. In addition, there is financial support for those who qualify.

Every student who is a part of the program must meet with a counselor every month. Again, this helped me because my counselors provided advice and suggestions on classes and possible plans for my future. My CSUN EOP counselor helped me research internships and jobs for after graduation. They are there to help, and I am glad I took the steps to research and apply to the program. Everyone could use a helping hand, and the will to accept it is the first step in becoming a stronger person. I am so thankful to have found people to help me through my college journey.

All USC and CSU campuses offer EOP, as well as State University of New York campuses and other colleges. I strongly encourage everyone to look into EOP. If your school does not provide this specific program, research other support programs that your school does offer. They exist, but you need to put in the effort to research and apply. Their benefits and rewards will improve your education and career plans. So start today! Programs exist for you, so take that extra step to improve your future.

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academic support California State University college diversity college support services EAOP Early Academic Outreach Program Educational Opportunity Program EOP first-generation students low-income students University of California

About Maria G. Maldonado

I was born and raised in Oxnard, California. God is my number one. I’m a graduate from Ventura College and attended Moorpark College for a short period of time. I’m currently attending CSU Northridge to receive my Bachelor's in Screenwriting. I love writing, whether I’m working on a poem, short story, a script, or randomness. I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I was a student contributor for Student Paths for over three years and am a blogger for a wedding planning agency called Best Bride. Life is zooming by, but I am just trying to enjoy the ride!


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