Most people don’t want to consider themselves disadvantaged or coming from a background in life that may have not been the greatest. There are several ways you can look at this, sometimes you have less hurdles than you really think. Possibly no one in your family ever graduated college so you think it is not even a reality for you. Maybe you are a single parent struggling to make ends meet and you may qualify for a program that will help you rise above your situation. I was in similar shoes one year ago when my father died, and I needed something in my life to change. I was dissatisfied with where I was in my life overall. I knew I could do better. I wanted to do better and improve my situation. I came to realize that people judge you based on your accomplishments. As a mother with two teenage kids, time was going by and I was not making moves fast enough. So, I decide to go back to school after 20 years. I did not have a dollar in my pocket, but I enrolled anyway, and I did not know how I was going to do it. Someone in student services suggested that I visit the EOPS office for aid in paying for my textbooks. The next day I walked in to the EOPS department for textbooks and to my surprise I walked out with groceries, my classes paid for, and a voucher for all my textbooks. It gave me a new lease on life and I knew the future I was hoping for was truly possible.
EOPS stands for Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and is available at Coastline College. It was created as part of the civil rights enacted program to increase diversity across college campuses in America. EOPS provides financial, academic, and personal support for low-income students whose educational and socio-economic backgrounds might otherwise prevent them from successfully attaining their educational goals. This program is an added support to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their educational goals whether it is earning a certificate, an associate degree, or a transfer degree to a four-year college.
Extended Opportunity Programs and Service was established by Senate Bill 164 to identify, recruit, retain, educate, and prepare the disadvantaged for career employment and or for transfer to a university. Research shows that getting certified or attaining a degree cal lead to getting a better job and open new doors for a better future. If you come from a disadvantaged background and are worried you will not be able to afford school, apply for the EOPS program and see how they can help you. For decades EOPS has been able to cover the costs for tuition for students, as well as, books, gas for your car, childcare, and more.
What is a disadvantaged background?
• Speak a language other than English at home
• Being a first-generation college student
• Graduated from high school with a G.P.A below 2.50 on a 4.0 scale
• Current or former foster youth
• Not a high school graduate or did not obtain a GED
• Be from an underrepresented group
I honestly do not think I would have made it this far, meaning through my first year of college, without their assistance. Some of the services offered are:
• Priority registration
• Counseling and advisement
• Transfer assistance
• Workshops on study skills, transfer requirements, time management, resume writing and much more
• Trips to local colleges
• Classroom supplies
• EOPS grants (amount varies)
• Funds to purchase textbooks (amount varies)
• Bus passes and/or gas cards
Being a former EOPS student, EOPS Counselor, Claudia Mojica understands how being from a low-income family, where English is the second language, can add to the struggles that some of her student are experiencing. One of the best things about Coastline College is that as a counselor she is actually coming from the same place that the disadvantaged student that walks in the door is coming from.
“Having this experience, myself which is the experience of many EOPS students, helps me relate to some of the things that students might have going on. I want to know about all the things my students are balancing in their lives. If they are working, have other family obligations, have children, or a spouse or significant other – all of these factors need to be taken into account when we design a plan that is going to help a student be successful in obtaining their goals.”
Claudia is a compassionate counselor who wants her students to succeed. It is required that students meet at least three times per semester with their EOPS counselor, as well as, complete some sort of activity with the campus community, whether it is a workshop, transfer event, or health fair. Students are encouraged to be involved with the campus community at large. The purpose is to establish connections, by encouraging the involvement of additional activities outside the meetings with a counselor or program specialist. These factors all contribute to the reason this program have some of the best success rates in the State of California. Part of Claudia’s success with the influence that she has with her students is due to the struggles that she herself endured during her adolescence. She believes this makes her sensitive to the struggles that her students are experiencing. Not only is she an EOPS alumni, Claudia has continued with her education well beyond Coastline College being a great example for the students that need that extra hand up.
STEPS TO APPLY:
So, if you are someone struggling to make ends meet and you come from a disadvantaged background, then apply. The Coastline EOPS staff is remarkable. I remember having anxiety about the admission process as it was unknown to me, but walking into the Coastline EOPS office, took all the stress away and they did everything for me. The staff members like Mai, Mindy, and Tina held my hand for the whole process and it was so easy! They care about your emotional well-being. Honestly, I would have gone to school a long time ago had I known it would have been this simple. It can be discouraging at times when some of us from underprivileged backgrounds run into individuals and society that sometimes judge us too soon. This is not the case at the EOPS office at Coastline College. If you get accepted to EOPS then they can find ways to cover your tuition costs, which means extra money for your living expense from your financial aid award. I am now about to get my associates degree and transfer to a university and it has been the best decision I ever made. It can be for you as well. It is worth it!