Students in Yuma Get a “Jump Start” On College Thanks to Arizona Western College

Yuma, AZ | Submitted by Linda Elliot-Nelson

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Going from high school to higher education can be daunting, especially for a first generation college student. In Yuma, the team at Arizona Western College (AWC) recognized that many students were arriving at their new student orientation – Experience AWC – under-prepared.

As a result, they developed Jumpstart Saturday, a program that allows prospective students the opportunity to complete their pre-enrollment tasks, ask questions, and prepare to start college, all during a convenient time. Not everyone can get out to the campus during the work week, and students often want parents to accompany them.

Held on the weekend, Jump Start Saturday makes it possible for parents to attend and learn more about the process, while also allowing non-traditional working students the chance to complete their paperwork and testing without missing work.

During Jumpstart Saturday, students are be able to:

• Complete an application for admission
• Complete placement testing
• Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with any required enrollment documents
• Take care of any prior registration holds
• Sign up for new student orientation

To ensure that students get the guidance they need, AWC makes staff and student ambassadors available to assist with each of these steps. This one-stop shop even includes Spanish-speaking staff, to ensure that families are appropriately informed about the process.

Jump Start Saturdays started in spring 2017, but they’re already having an impact. With 40-50 students attending some of the events, it is certainly helping to make college more accessible.

This increased access to services is feeding into the twice-annual Experience AWC event, where students can tour the campus, sign up for classes, peruse resource tables, meet with an advisor and register for classes. Students are now coming to the event prepared with their financial paperwork and other preliminaries completed. Both are important services at a school where so many students are first generation college-goers.

Arizona Western College is already the top ranked community college in the state for the percentage of students who graduate and for those who go on to complete a bachelor’s degree. And now they’re assisting students to enroll in postsecondary education, who might otherwise be overwhelmed with the process. In Arizona, only half of high school graduates enroll in postsecondary education after graduating from high school, even though the majority of jobs now require training of some kind beyond high school.

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