By Kevin Maloney, South Seattle Community College
To most people, the idea of a summer boot camp is not particularly appealing. But at the boot camp graduation ceremony held last week, it was clear that South Seattle Community College’s incoming 13th-Year Scholars are not like most people. With 94 participants, a record for the boot camp program, the 13th-Year Scholars are truly outstanding.
The 13th-Year Scholarship guarantees one-year of free tuition for all graduates from Chief Sealth International High School and Cleveland High School at South, regardless of grade point average and family income. Fifty-percent of students said that if it were not for the privately funded 13th-Year Scholarship, they would not be able to attend college. One student who can identify with that statistic is incoming freshman and boot camp participant, Cristian Clemente.
“If it weren’t for the 13th-Year Scholarship, I would not be able to afford college,” Clemente explained. “I like the fact that this community is encouraging us to do well and has made an investment in our education. Now, I need to take advantage of this opportunity and make the best of it.”
In addition to the financial support, this scholarship also provides academic support for the students, including last week’s boot camp. The primary purpose of the boot camp, which is a requirement for all 13th-Year Scholars, is to help prepare the incoming students for the transition from high school to college with intensive workshops that cover a variety of topics from financial aid, to networking, to placement tests and everything in between.
For incoming freshman Marissa Evans, whose father also attended South, the program was particularly helpful. “I think the most important thing that they taught us was to take care of ourselves,” Evans said. “There was a strong focus on self-advocacy and making sure that we ask for help when we need it. Just having this (boot camp), makes it clear how to succeed in college and I appreciate that.”
Evans is not alone. In fact, 73-percent of 13th-Year students said that the programs like this week’s boot camp prepared them for college, while only 35-percent said that their high school education prepared them.
In high school, Evans was an honors-student and planned on attending a university after graduation. “I was on-track to attend a university, but the financial factor made my decision very clear,” Evans said. “I’m really happy to be here. I think the smaller classes and the community that South has will help me succeed.”
According to South’s President Gary Oertli, it’s important not only to get these students in the door but across the graduation stage. “We have found that the academic support our 13th-Year students receive makes a difference,” Oertli, a Chief Sealth graduate, explained. “It’s really become a hallmark of the program’s success.”
Maybe boot camp isn’t such a bad idea after all.
To learn more about the 13th Year Promise Scholarship at South Seattle Community College, click here.