About one in six Gunn or Palo Alto high school graduates goes directly to Foothill or De Anza community college, according to the college chancellor.
Linda Thor, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, spoke at a reception Sunday at the Palo Alto home of Elaine Andersen, a member of a Foothill College "friends" group.
Sunday's reception drew several dozen PTA and other community leaders, including Palo Alto school board members Barbara Klausner and Camille Townsend, Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa, City Council members Pat Burt and Nancy Shepherd. State Sen. Joe Simitian and Foothill-De Anza trustee Bruce Swenson also attended.
Michael Kirst, a Stanford University professor and current president of the State Board of Education, told the group that getting more students successfully through community colleges will be critical for the future economic success of California and the nation.
In the fall of 2009, about 18 percent of Paly and Gunn graduates entered Foothill or De Anza, and the rate over the past decade has ranged between 13 percent and 19 percent, Thor said.
According to Foothill statistics, about 80 percent of Palo Alto students meet their goals of completing preparation for transfer or successfully transferring to a four-year university.
Between 2004 and 2009, Palo Alto students attending Foothill or De Anza transferred to about 95 different four-year institutions, including every University of California campus, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Mount Holyoke, Northeastern, Occidental, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California and Yale, Thor said.
Foothill-De Anza students ranked No. 1 among 72 community colleges in California for UC transfers in 2010, Thor said.
The colleges' Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program guarantees Foothill or De Anza students admission as juniors to certain UC or other campuses if they meet agreed-upon grade and course requirements.
Foothill and De Anza have TAG agreements with UC campuses at Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, as well as with some private universities, including Cornell, Thor said.
UCLA and Berkeley do not have TAG agreements with any college. However, Foothill has a "special transfer relationship" with UCLA called the Transfer Alliance Program. It does not guarantee admission, but in 2010 more than 80 percent of the Foothill honors students who used the program were admitted to UCLA, Thor said.
Andersen, who with her husband hosted Sunday's event, is a member of the Foothill Commission, a group dedicated to promoting and raising funds for the school in the community. She received an associate's degree from Foothill in 1969 before earning her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from Stanford University. She is a professor of linguistics and neuroscience at the University of Southern California.