Recent research has shown that community college students, once they have transferred to a four-year college or university, tend to outperform students who began their academic career at that college, and this is true regardless of how selective the college is (Glynn, 2019). This is easy to see in the University of California system, where annually more than 26,000 community college students are admitted, including nearly 4,000 per year on the UC Berkeley campus alone. Of these, roughly half are first-generation college students.
Through ACCESS we aim to create a sense of belonging at UC Berkeley through direct contact with UC Museum of Paleontology scientists and graduate students, some of who are first generation college students or members of groups underrepresented in STEM disciplines. We want students to be successful in their academic careers and know the value of engaging students in hands-on exposure to paleontology and related disciplines while they are still community college students.