By Brant Ozanich
Students looking to stay on track during their first two years of college can apply to the Metro Academies, a program at both City College and SF State that provides advising, peer support and specially tailored classes for students.
By close collaboration between the two schools, students from both colleges start their junior year at SF State on the same level of learning proficiency, regardless if they transferred from City College or began their education at SF State.
“Students have been let down by the disinvestment in public education and need a boost to help start their college career,” said Viki Legion, a co-founder of Metro Academies. “Transfer is a long and leaky pipeline and we’re trying to make it a high speed train.”
The program, formerly called Metro Health Academies, infuses community health and social justice into the general education classes students are already required to take.
Only one health and one early childhood development class are currently offered directly through Metro Academies, but program administrators are trying to create more Metro pathways that will be viable with all majors in the California State University system.
“English, math, critical thinking and communication are all infused with community health,” Program Coordinator Rama Ali Kased said about Metro Academy classes. For example, instead of writing a speech on a topic of their choice, students enrolled in the program must research and speak about a community health topic for their basic speech class at SF State.
Current Metro students said the program creates a strong sense of camaraderie and allows them to collaborate and study together throughout their college careers. Many perceive this as one of the most beneficial aspects of the program.
“It gave me a community and an extra family to come home to or go to see,” said Marisol Melara, a freshman sociology major at SF State. “We are all in the same program and same classes and we will stick together for the next two years. They offer me a lot of support and guidance into how to do things.”
Metro Academies are tailored specifically for freshmen and sophomores and are not designed to provide guidance once the students start their majors. The program’s advisers and counselors provide support for students beyond their second year on a personal and more informal level.
“The professors are great when talking to us and are really willing to help us out. They help us come up with an ‘EdPlan’ that helps us set up our first two years, our general education,” Ingrid Pedroza, a freshman at SF State said. “Definitely try to get in the program because it helps you stay on track and build a community of support.”
Students interested in the program can be enrolled at either City College or SF State. After taking the required proficiency tests they are encouraged to apply to the Metro office located at their campus before the start of their college career. Students may also apply during their freshman year.
“I was taking classes that I found were interesting, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Leyva said while speaking at a student orientation. “As I was sitting in my English class, Rama came inside and started talking about the Metro Academies and what they were all about. So I said ‘Why not? I’ll sign up.’”
The Metro Academy program was founded at both schools in 2008, according to communityhealthworks.org. The program has maintained a retention rate of more than 75 percent after the first year at City College and more than 90 percent at SF State.