The Beginning

In order to address the roughly 50% loss of incoming students between their first Fall and Spring semesters, the Student Services Office at Skyline College launched the Promise Scholarship in 2016, a one-year dedicated support program modeled on a similar program at Cuesta College. However, because there was still a big drop-off when it came to completion, they made the strategic decision to commit beyond the first year. An inquiry into how best to bolster their completion numbers led them on a learning journey with support from Career Ladders Project to various colleges: Arizona State University to learn more about their technology infrastructure, Guttman Community College, the newest campus of City University of New York (CUNY), to experience interdisciplinary high-touch student success teams, and then to other CUNY campuses. CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) has significantly improved completion rates for CUNY students, particularly those from underserved populations.


Skyline College received funding in the amount of $842,832 from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) to be the first and only West Coast institution of higher education to fully replicate the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) model pioneered by City University of New York (CUNY).

Building from the Promise Scholarship in 2016, Skyline has added a programmatic component each year and now offers a robust set of student supports that fall in three main areas of the student experience: academic support, counseling support, and financial support.

Academic Support: This component of the Promise Scholars Program began as the Promise Scholars Summer Institute, a bridge program that supports students in completing transfer-level math and English in their first year, as required by AB 705. The institute now focuses on navigating life as college student and connecting with counselors and peers to jump-start a successful transition from high school or the community to the college environment. Promise Scholars receive various academic supports:

    • Priority registration for full 3 years
    • Cohort specific courses in general education areas
    • Coordinated schedules in a cohort model
    • A full year of course registration at one time
    • Tutoring support
    • Early alerts when issues are emerging

Counseling Support: Promise Scholars are assigned to an academic counselor who supports them through completion of a degree, certificate, or transfer. Counselors carry small case loads: 1 to 150 maximum ratio. Using a tiered model counseling model (akin to the Needs-Based Counseling Model in ASAP), academically challenged students meet more frequently, students with clearer educational goals and fewer outside factors impeding progression towards degree meet less frequently.

The program includes:

    • Group counseling and career development.
    • A Retention Specialist who supports students when they first come into the office, accompanies them to their first office hours session as a support resource, connects them to key staff and resources, and leads the early alert.
    • High, Medium, and Low Support informed by student data:
      • Low Support have good academic standing, are responsive to outreach, have clear goals, and are engaged in the program
      • Medium Support reside in the gray areas. They could have some clarity on goals, but be on the cusp of academic probation or be bouncing around between majors.
      • High Support might be on academic probation, lack goal clarity or motivation, or face an unstable situation outside of school, e.g. housing insecurity. These students are required to:
        • Meet with their counselor monthly
        • Attend monthly workshops or group counseling sessions
        • Attend weekly tutoring sessions

Financial Support:

    • 3 full years of financial support with fee waivers applied after financial aid.
    • $750 provided annually to offset the cost of books.
    • $50 monthly transportation incentives, including gas cards, Clipper cards, and Uber cards. (Students can get up to 10 of these per year, as long as they are fulfilling their counseling and engagement requirements

Student Experience

ASAP students have the same support person from point-of-entry to completion, one person that really knows them well and is the students go-to person.

Early Outcomes

Measuring Impact: Skyline has increased 2 year graduation rates to 25% from the historical 6%.

Timeline for Implementation

    • Fall 2016 Skyline obtained funding for scholarships (to cover tuition and fees) for a cohort of 139 Students
    • Fall 2017 Skyline provided 253 students with scholarship support and a counselor while building a relationship with ASAP at CUNY and working to replicate ASAP
    • Fall 2018 More than 304 Skyline students experience the full-blown ASAP model (counseling, fees, books, incentives). (Some sources tally 507 students in ASAP by this point.)
    • Fall 2019 A total of 750 students in 2 cohorts are participating in ASAP