Fall semester kicks off

Grossmont, Cuyamaca and region’s community colleges begin new school year

August 14, 2023 at 10:00 AM

Grossmont College

It’s back to school for the 10 community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties, as thousands of students return to campus or pursue online classes at the start of the Fall 2023 semester.

Many colleges are providing new programs to enhance support to students as they pursue their education. Several are offering new degrees and certificates to train students for well-paying careers, such as a new laboratory safety and health technician certificate at Cuyamaca College and a new Global Studies program at Palomar College. 

“The last few years have taught us a lot about the resiliency of our students and the new and dynamic environments of learning online, on campus, and in hybrid courses. All of the colleges have increased the flexibility within their course schedules to better serve students, who often have competing responsibilities,” said Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey, Superintendent/President of Palomar College and CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA).  “We continue to be the reliable source for students to achieve a degree or certificate, or the training they need to join fast growing industries.”

SDICCCA comprises the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District (Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges), Imperial Valley College, MiraCosta College, Palomar College, the San Diego Community College District (City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges, and San Diego College of Continuing Education), and Southwestern College. Imperial Valley College begins the 2022-23 academic year on August 14, while the Grossmont-Cuyamaca, MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego, and Southwestern Community College Districts start on August 21. San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) begins September 5.

In partnership with California Assemblymember David Alvarez and Senator Steve Padilla, SDICCCA has led advocacy efforts for Assembly Bill 91 (AB 91) which will exempt nonresident tuition fees for people that reside within 45 miles of the California-Mexico border. The legislation will provide another pathway to higher education for hundreds of binational local students.

Here are a few highlights of what is planned this coming semester:

Cuyamaca College
With a more than 70 percent increase in the number of engineering students over the past five years, Cuyamaca College will again be welcoming many new and aspiring computer, electrical, and aerospace engineers. Cuyamaca is the second largest feeder of engineering majors to San Diego State University in the region.

Cuyamaca is also offering a new certificate in Laboratory Occupational Safety and Health Technician, in response to industry demand. The college is providing late-start classes that begin September 5, including in Physics, Math, Kumeyaay Studies, and Ethnic Studies.

Cuyamaca students in need of food or housing support can access it through Cuyamaca Cares, which provides customized support to students struggling with food or housing insecurity. With support from donors, Cuyamaca provides food care baskets located in sites all over the campus so that students and staff have quick and easy access to basic needs support.

Grossmont College
A Week of Welcome starts August 21, with support for new students from the Associated Students of Grossmont College, Career Services, and student clubs.

Grossmont is offering a new program, a bilingual drone flight school, as part of its short-term class offerings. This program is just one of many that offers short-term, 8-week classes, which start at the beginning and the middle of the semester. Grossmont’s highly successful Computer Science program is developing new courses to help students master Artificial Intelligence skills which are in-demand by local tech employers.

Grossmont College is also launching “the Village,” in the Learning Resource Center, to provide individualized support to students who have traditionally been underserved in higher education including through A2MEND, Umoja, Puente, Dream Center, MESA, and for former foster youth, justice impacted students and more.  The Village will be a safe space where students can be themselves, relax, and receive a wide range of support.

Imperial Valley College
Imperial Valley College, recently recognized as a co-recipient of the 2023 Aspen Award as the best community college in the nation, will be offering new courses to train lithium plant operators in response to Imperial County’s burgeoning lithium industry. Imperial Valley College has been partnering with lithium producers to ensure a trained workforce is in place. The college also received a $1.4 million grant to enable a multi-year agriculture training program in partnership with three other colleges. The project aims to advance equity in high-skill agriculture occupations for educationally disadvantaged, low-income, and Hispanic residents.

MiraCosta College
MiraCosta College launched Ask a Spartan, a live chat available during business hours at miracosta.edu/#bot.  The chat bot is designed to assist students as they pursue their path and get the answers they need when they need it.

Through the support from a $3 million federal grant, MiraCosta College is increasing academic and social supports for Latinx students. The grant funds will also be used to support paid internships, allowing low-income students to obtain an internship who might otherwise need a job to support themselves in college.

MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute is launching the Uniquely Abled: CNC Operation Program, designed to provide career preparation and employment opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum. The initiative will allow individuals with autism to succeed in careers such as computer numerical control machine operators.

MiraCosta College is offering dual enrollment that allows high school students to earn college credits. The classes are free, including textbooks and materials. Any students who has completed eighth grade or is 15 years old is eligible.

Palomar College
Palomar College is launching three new programs this fall:  an associate degree in Elementary Education Preparation; an associate degree for transfer in Global Studies; and a certificate in Coaching.  The Elementary Education Preparation program helps students more easily transfer to teacher preparation programs at 4-year institutions. Global Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the knowledge to engage with an ever-changing global society, allowing students to transfer into the California State University system.  The Coaching certificate prepares students for immediate entry-level employment in the field of individual, group, or team coaching.

Palomar College also reestablished a noncredit Certificate of Completion in Reading Skills for English language learners this fall. Non-native speakers of English will develop the reading skills needed for academic reading and for success in their careers.

Students who have college-level skills and knowledge gained outside of the classroom can obtain college credit in over 200 courses through Palomar’s Credit for Prior Learning program.  Palomar College is partnered with dozens of high schools to offer college-level courses for free to high school students.

San Diego City College
San Diego City College is offering more than 200 programs with classes taught in person, online and hybrid. Its nursing program is ranked second in the state and third in the nation by RNCareers.org. It also offers a variety of sports teams, including soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, and volleyball for student athletes.

San Diego College of Continuing Education
This fall, the College of Continuing Education is launching a new ICOM7 (Interactive Competency-based Online Microcredentialing) Academy. It is opening a new student lounge with WiFi access, desks, expanded vending options and wall-mounted flat screen televisions at its flagship Education Cultural Complex on Ocean View Boulevard. The college is also offering one-stop enrollment centers at each of its seven campuses with hands-on support in completing an application, registering for classes, and accessing resources. A new tutoring center is being unveiled at the complex and a new research center is opening at the North City Campus.

San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College is launching new programs to support students and provide career exploration, including the Small Business Virtual Incubator and Mesa Impactship Program. Additionally, in partnership with FamilyU and Generation Hope, Mesa has hired a Student Parent Fellow, who will receive a $20,000 stipend to help enhance Mesa’s programs to enhance student parent support over the next year.  New academic certificate programs include certificates in Information and Communication Technology, Software Engineering Foundations, and Foundations of Fashion Merchandising. These certificates provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to gain entry-level employment or can provide working students with additional knowledge and skills for career advancement.

San Diego Miramar College
San Diego Miramar College will begin its first fall semester as an official Hispanic Serving Institution. Miramar College received a $2.7 million DHSI/Stem Exito Project grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will allow the college to participate in the development of expanding programs and improving Latino/a and low-income students’ success outcomes, specifically in STEM fields. The objectives of the project include clarifying and enhancing a STEM guided pathway to degree completion, integration of student support services and academic interventions in STEM, and professional development for faculty and staff. About 30% of Miramar College students identify as LatinX, and 86% of those students continue in their courses. 

Southwestern College
Southwestern College is developing a dual enrollment program at its Higher Education Center in San Ysidro. The San Ysidro Middle College will focus on students from Sweetwater Union High School who have historically been underserved.  The college is also creating a Binational and International program to support these students’ needs.

Southwestern College is also creating Smart Schedules, which allow students to enroll full-time in classes that are guaranteed to be available for a four-semester sequence and prepare students to graduate quicker. The college is opening the Landscape and Nursery Technology Department’s South Bay Botanic Garden, a classroom and resource for learning about design, construction, maintenance, nursery production, and all kinds of landscape related professions.


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