A Very Rough Road For Community College Students

Ann McClure's picture

Foster Washington knows the odds are against him. The Los Angeles Southwest College student is a 20-year-old from a tough neighborhood in Watts where, he says, there was little encouragement or preparation for college.

Recent studies suggest that students such as Washington are the least likely to stay in school, get a degree or transfer to a four-year university, hampering their future job prospects.

But Washington is determined to be the first college graduate in his family of 12 siblings. Southwest, part of the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District, is trying to fulfill his goal through new programs focused on intensive tutoring, faculty training and helping students adjust to college life.

"I have no time to hang out on the street with my homies; I want to be at school every day," Washington said after a recent English class that he said is his favorite. "Coming here gives me a sense of worth."

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