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PCC launches initiative to simplify college access for Beaverton High School grads

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Superintendent Gustavo Balderas with PCC President Adrien Bennings.

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas with PCC President Adrien Bennings.

Portland Community College has entered into a direct admissions agreement to seamlessly admit all graduating seniors from Beaverton High School and its Early College High School. This pilot program will allow Beaverton seniors from the 2024-25 school year to be directly enrolled at PCC, starting in the fall of 2025. 

This initiative, aimed at breaking down barriers to post-secondary opportunities, specifically targets vulnerable and under-represented students, including low-income, first-generation, foster youth, and those from minority backgrounds.

“The move is a significant step toward creating equality of opportunity for students in underserved communities,” said PCC Executive Dean for K12 and Community Partnerships Vicky López Sánchez. “By streamlining the admissions process, PCC aims to save students valuable time and remove the potential barrier of a daunting application process. This approach ensures that students, often overwhelmed by the complexities of taking their ‘first step,’ can embark on their educational journey with the assurance of admission to PCC.”

Once rolled out, the pilot direct admissions program will be fine tuned and then eventually expanded to all Beaverton schools and additional districts within the college’s service area. PCC’s Director of Admissions & Recruitment Bridget Jones listed key reasons why this agreement with the Beaverton School District makes so much sense.

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas with PCC President Adrien Bennings

The leaders for both institutions sign on the dotted line.

Key Benefits to Students:
  • Time Savings – Saves students time on having to prepare for admissions.
  • Simplified Process – Remove a potential barrier to access (the application process) which can oftentimes feel overwhelming for students trying to take the “first step.”
  • Less Stress – Reduces unnecessary stress and will help relieve the anxieties students face in figuring out what to do next in navigating the college environment. “At the very least, students will know they are admitted to PCC. Staff can help them navigate their next steps to get a successful start at the college and help them explore our career and academic pathway options,” Jones added.
  • Supportive Environment – Knowing they are admitted to PCC allows students to feel wanted and supported, fostering a sense of belonging within the college community.
  • Focused Assistance – With reduced administrative load, admissions teams can dedicate more time to helping students develop financial plans, connecting them with academic supports, and addressing challenges faced by many students.
Desired Outcomes:
  • Increased College Attendance – The initiative targets increased enrollment of first-generation students, immigrant students, and students of color.
  • Enhanced Sense of Belonging – PCC aims to create a strong college-going and career-preparing culture in the Portland area, contributing to a more inclusive environment.
  • Job Training Skills – The proposal aligns with local employer needs, providing students with critical job training skills, particularly in career and technical education (CTE) fields.

“The Beaverton School District is pleased to be partnering with PCC on this important pilot project,” said Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas. “We value this opportunity that grants automatic access to college and career training for our graduating seniors, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. We are hopeful that this new initiative will alleviate some of the stress and struggles associated with the college admissions process for both our students and their families.”

This effort fits into PCC’s mission of delivering access to a quality education. The state’s largest community college has numerous partnerships with local school districts and agreements with key four-year institutions to make degree completion and career technical training more within reach for students. These include dual enrollment agreements with Portland State University, Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology and Linfield College where students are directly enrolled at both institutions. Plus, the college has dual credit agreements with school districts to help area high school students attain college credit and make transitioning into higher education easier.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Director of Public Relations at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic... more »