San Francisco

In San Francisco, there is one UC Links program, a collaborative effort of San Francisco State University, McAteer High School, and Mission High School.

  • The UC Links Email Mentorship Program connects San Francisco State University undergraduates with high school students via email exchanges. Through the program, university students supply McAteer and Mission high school students with information about college entrance requirements and admissions procedures, and relate their personal experiences of college life. The program serves a large majority of Chicano/a and Latino/a high school students, many of them recently-arrived immigrants.

Ongoing Site Development and Collaboration

Providing a forum where high school students and university undergraduates can share information and make personal connections in support of higher educational aspirations, the San Francisco State University UC Links program ran five days a week throughout the SFSU academic year. In 1999-2000, 41 undergraduates and 140 high school students participated in email exchanges designed to improve participants’ on-line communication and research skills. Each SFSU mentor was matched with 3-5 high school students. Undergraduate mentors were responsible for collecting and sharing information about CSU and UC admissions criteria, financial aid, and housing, and for providing high school students with first-hand accounts of campus life. Email interactions were supplemented by opportunities for participants to meet face to face, during parent orientation meetings early each semester, and during UC Links Campus Visiting Day on the SFSU campus at the end of each semester. The Campus Visiting Days provided high school students with access to a wealth of resources, including advising and workshops on the university application process. A majority of undergraduate mentors were bilingual speakers of Spanish and English, allowing the program to accommodate the language needs of bilingual high school students and their parents. Over 50 percent of email exchanges during 1999-2000 were conducted in Spanish, and parent orientation meetings offered information in both English and Spanish.

In the Spring 2000 semester, the San Francisco State University UC Links program expanded from one partner high school, Mission High School, to include a second partner, J.Eugene McAteer High School. Mission High School student participants were members of the tenth and eleventh grade ESL World Study classes taught by Nancy Rodriquez. McAteer High School student participants were drawn from the McAteer University Preparatory Academic Program for Bilingual Students (the Ventana Program), in which language minority students received support and guidance as they worked through a university preparatory course of study in the after-school hours. In Fall 1999, 92 Mission High School students participated in the UC Links Email Mentorship Program. In Spring 2000, 14 Mission High School students participated in UC Links, and 24 McAteer High School students were involved. The SFSU UC Links team collaborated with faculty and staff from Mission and McAteer High Schools to train undergraduate mentors and to plan program events. Four Mission High School teachers and one teacher from McAteer High School integrated the UC Links program into their curricula, exploring themes related to educational equity. These teachers also worked closely with the program coordinator to facilitate mentoring activities, providing their students with weekly time in the computer lab. The program encouraged parent involvement and emphasized the importance of parental participation as high school students prepared and applied for university admission.

Undergraduate Courses

San Francisco State University UC Links mentors were drawn from several courses offered by the La Raza Studies Department in the College of Ethnic Studies. The primary course that provided UC Links mentors was Community Fieldwork: Issues in Educational Equity (LARA 690). Through lectures, readings, and interactions with high school youth, undergraduates considered whether education could be an equalizing force in society. All students enrolled in this course were required to participate in the UC Links Email Mentorship Program. Other courses offered by the La Raza Studies Department included U.S. Government and Constitutional Ideals (LARA 276); this course was one of several that had service learning options, for which students were able to choose the UC Links program to fulfill their service requirements. In Fall 1999, 21 undergraduates from La Raza Studies Department courses participated as UC Links mentors. Participating students represented a diverse range of academic majors, including art, business, engineering, psychology, recreation and leisure studies, and social work. In Spring 2000, 20 undergraduates participated as UC Links mentors. These undergraduates also represented a wide variety of academic majors, including child and adolescent development, computer science, history, liberal studies, and theater.

Research and Evaluation

The San Francisco State University UC Links team aims to involve participating undergraduates in an exploration of educational equity issues, and to work with affiliated SFSU faculty to develop a model for community service-learning pedagogy at the university level. In 1999-2000, the small CSUSF UC Links team gathered demographic data on high school and undergraduate participants. In addition, the program coordinator conducted a survey of 18 undergraduate mentors at the end of the Spring 2000 semester, which found that they made very positive evaluations of their experiences as learners and as volunteers in the UC Links program. Students expressed the belief that the program was well integrated with the undergraduate course and that community service learning is an effective way to understand academic course material. Students also noted that the experiences in the UC Links program helped them develop personally and intellectually, and would likely change they way they act and think in the future.

Challenges and Successes

In 1999-2000, the San Francisco State University UC Links program expanded to a second high school campus and consolidated work from the preceding two years to improve operation of the Email Mentorship Program. The UC Links team has been approached by a number of San Francisco-area schools interested in securing mentors for their students. As the program develops a firm foundation in Mission and McAteer High Schools, and takes further steps in implementing its research and evaluation agenda, the UC Links team will be in a position to consider expanding to include other schools that have requested mentors.