Story Graduation Initiative

EOP Making Higher Education a Possibility

Dominique Oliver

 

​​EOP students at CSU Northridge 

 

California State University's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) has made earning a college degree possible for low-income and first-generation students for nearly five decades.

Through the program, the CSU has provided opportunity and resources to more than 250,000 EOP students over the last 48 years. Fought for and founded by minority and underrepresented students and implemented systemwide at the CSU's 23 campuses, EOP's holistic program supports students who possess the potential to excel at a college level, but have not been able to perform at their fullest capabilities due to economic or educational burdens.

With a goal of helping students apply to and succeed in college, EOP mentors visit inner-city high schools and low-income communities to promote the importance of a college education. This focused outreach provides students an opportunity to connect with the mentors who can share success stories from their own respective college journeys, emphasizing the colloquial motto, 'If I can do it, so can you.'

A prime example of the effectiveness of this type of outreach is Sean James, associate director of EOP at CSU Dominguez Hills.

"College was just a dream," said James. "EOP believed in me. It showed me it was a program willing to give me a chance when my GPA was off or I didn't have the proper SAT scores. It gave me a chance to go to college and attend a four-year university."

Raised by a single mother and the first in his family to attend college, James was accepted by CSU Northridge as a special admit through EOP, earning both bachelor's and master's degrees. Unbeknownst to him, it was the beginning of his educational and professional career as a student and EOP mentor ultimately leading to his dream job as EOP director.

"EOP really helped me reach my goals, even when I didn't believe I could graduate with a bachelor's degree. It helped me earn a master's degree, and not only gave me my dream job of giving back to my community, but it kept pushing me to grow professionally."

James credits EOP for the success of his academic and professional career and uses his journey to instill hope in students from similar backgrounds. He is currently completing his Doctorate of Education at the University of Southern California and will be the first of his family to earn a doctoral degree.

EOP provides higher education opportunities for minority and low-income communities, granting access for California's diverse students to the CSU where they earn the degrees that make them members of the state's highly-skilled workforce. EOP supports students' academic goals in conjunction with the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025 by monitoring academic progress and connecting with other entities on campus on best ways to service the needs of students while in college and after they graduate.

Prospective students interested in EOP must apply during the CSU undergraduate application process, be a California resident, or qualify for an AB 540/2000 nonresident tuition exemption. Students who demonstrate a history of low family income based on family income guidelines may qualify for financial aid and also receive an EOP grant.

Learn more on how the CSU is improving retention and graduation rates and how it is committed to removing obstacles hindering student success here. For more information about the Educational Opportunity Program, visit: http://www.calstate.edu/sas/eop/.

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