Through one-on-one mentoring and other resources, the Experience Berkeley Program, run by the nonprofit Stiles Hall, helps students apply to UC Berkeley.
Experience Berkeley provides high school students assistance with personal insight questions, and pairs high school students with UC Berkeley students to help them apply to a variety of other colleges and universities. Currently, the program has an admissions rate of 55% to UC Berkeley — which generally has an admission rate of about 15% overall.
“A lot of our students are first-generation low-income, so they have no one else to go to other than teachers and counselors to help them apply to college,” said Itcelia Segoviano, director of community service at Stiles Hall. “(The program) directly impacts them and makes them more motivated to apply.”
Stiles Hall is a nonprofit organization located across from campus. The organization aims to provide pathways to college and opportunities for students of color.
The Experience Berkeley program recruits students from California high schools. Segoviano does outreach with students in the Coachella Valley region, where she is from. According to Segoviano, many students in the Coachella Valley are discouraged from applying to four-year universities such as UC Berkeley.
“(Students) were instead encouraged to go to our community college, which there’s only one community college for the whole Coachella Valley,” Segoviano said. “As I started going back and talking about my experience and how there is financial aid, and you can afford it — it’s not going to come out of your parents’ pockets — and all that stuff, there’s so much support.”
According to Segoviano, such programs can help campuses serve Latinx students and communities by reaching out to areas with large Latinx communities like the Coachella Valley.
Fourteen out of 20 students who joined the program from the Coachella Valley were admitted to campus in 2020, giving it a 70% admission rate for that year.
“A lot of students have said that our program has helped them with university applications in general, not just the UCs,” Segoviano said. “We’ve had students who have gone to Harvard, to Stanford, because of the support that this program has given them.”