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New partnership means 'automatic admission' to UC Merced for Visalia Unified students

Visalia Times-Delta logo Visalia Times-Delta 11/8/2022 Lauren Jennings, Visalia Times-Delta

Visalia Unified school officials are ensuring they give outgoing seniors a leg up in the competition to get into college. 

Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into University California Merced thanks to a new partnership between the school district and Central California university. 

“We are making a commitment as a system, we don't want to leave it up to chance,” Superintendent Kirk Shrum said. “Obviously not every student is going to UC Merced, however, this is just one other opportunity we are working to bring here.” 

Visalia Unified and UC Merced signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the Merced Automatic Admission Program on Oct. 28, making VUSD the ninth school district to partner with the university.    

Other school districts throughout the state also in the Merced Automatic Admission Program include Merced Union High, Dinuba Unified, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified, Chowchilla Unified, Los Banos Unified, Modesto City Schools, Le Grand Union High, and Golden Plains Unified. 

Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25. © Lauren Jennings/Visalia Times-Delta Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25.

“We were established not just in the Valley but for the Valley and we will hold true to that promise,” UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said during a ceremony at El Capitan High School this spring, when the first partnership between UC Merced and Merced Union High School District was signed.

More than 200 Merced Union High students applied for the program when it first opened. Out of those who applied, 169 students were found to be eligible, and over 110 Merced Union High School District students submitted applications and were admitted to the university.

“We want every family in Merced County to know that a University of California education is right here, close to home,” Muñoz said, “and that you have the possibility to go from kindergarten through Ph.D. within minutes of your home if you put in the work.”

The program aligns with the Merced Promise, signed in 2020, which mentions “guaranteed admission to UC Merced.”

Although the Merced Promise was originally signed to help students within the county, the university soon began partnering with school districts outside of Merced.

Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25. © Lauren Jennings/Visalia Times-Delta Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25.

“Providing this opportunity for our students who are excelling academically affords them a goal to attain postsecondary education at a University of California campus,” Visalia Trustee Randy Villegas said.

The new partnership marks the second step the Visalia Unified school board has taken this year to ensure students have greater access to higher education.

In September, trustees voted after years of debate to finally raise graduation requirements to align with California State University and University of California minimum subject requirements.

More: After decades of discussion, Visalia Unified finally ready to boost math requirements

Although the new graduation requirements start with graduating class of 2028, current juniors that meet the UC requirements will be eligible for the Merced Automatic Admission Program come July.

“All our students have to do is remain eligible for admission,” said  Andrew Di Meo, Visalia Unified’s assistant superintendent of educational services. "They will be guaranteed admission into the UC program.”

Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25. © Lauren Jennings/Visalia Times-Delta Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25.

When can students apply?

Visalia Unified high school students that want to participate in the Merced Automatic Admission Program need to submit their application by Aug. 31 at the start of their senior year.

Students will then be notified by the university to submit their UC application by Nov. 30. 

Program participants are prioritized in the application review process and are notified of their admissions in early March.  

The Merced Automatic Admission Program application will be open for fall 2024 applicants starting May 1. 

Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25. © Lauren Jennings/Visalia Times-Delta Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25.

Something to keep in mind 

UC Merced’s recommended program criteria for fall 2023 admission were:  

  • Submit the Merced Automatic Admission Program application by July 1 before the start of senior year.  
  • Complete 15 A-G courses, including four years of English and three years of math, with a weighted GPA of 3.5, and no grade lower than a “C”.  
  • By the end of a student’s junior spring term, complete: three of the four years of English and complete three years of math.  
  • Submit the University of California Undergraduate Application for Admission and Scholarships during the Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 priority filing period.
Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25. © Lauren Jennings/Visalia Times-Delta Hundreds of Visalia Unified students will “automatically” be accepted into UC Merced after trustees voted to enter a partnership on Oct 25.

Lauren Jennings covers education and news for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. Follow her on Twitter @lolojennings. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: New partnership means 'automatic admission' to UC Merced for Visalia Unified students

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