Today marks the first day of the Fall 2019 semester at Santa Monica College (SMC). Whether you’re just beginning your journey at SMC or returning, I welcome you on behalf of everyone here at SMC! You may have chosen SMC because of the college’s reputation as California’s leader in transfers for 28 consecutive years to the University of California, or because one of SMC’s 110+ career-focused degrees & certificates will equip you for that dream career. Perhaps you are still seeking direction, and have yet to find the academic or career path that’s right for you . . . whatever the reason, you have made the right choice in coming to Santa Monica College.
At SMC, you are our #1 priority. That means we will meet you where you are, and guide you to success. This fall, Santa Monica College will celebrate its 90th year of service—it was established on September 10, 1929!—and throughout its extensive history, SMC has transformed thousands of lives and empowered students to be the best they can be.
Here are some very important points to note at the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester—please take the time to read the entire communication. You will be glad you did!
Choose YOUR Area of Interest: This fall, Santa Monica College has unveiled what we’re calling “Areas of Interest” to help you identify an academic and/or career path. For those who already have a sense of what interests you most, “Areas of Interest” have been designed to enable you to be part of a community that shares those interests. If you are searching or trying to learn about academic and/or career options available, these “Areas of Interests” will guide your discovery process. Santa Monica College has such a wide range of academic options available—roughly 180 Associate Degrees, Certificates of Achievement, short-term Department Certificates and a Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design—and we know that the array can be both exciting and overwhelming! Now you have the convenience of choosing one “area of interest”: Arts, Media & Entertainment; Business; Culture, History & Languages; Education; Health & Wellness; People & Society; and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Each area of interest has many options and majors—and our counselors will help you find and stay on the right path.
To read more about SMC’s Areas of Interest, head over to the Areas of Interest webpage. Stop by the beautiful new Student Services Center on Pico Blvd. to see a counselor ASAP! (New students: go to the Welcome Center; check the directory of all the offices and programs in the Center).
Transportation & Parking: SMC has implemented a new parking permit system. You will no longer receive a sticker via snail mail. Parking permits are completely virtual, now available for purchase online (sign in using your SMC student email ID and password) or in person at the Cashier's Office, located on the 1st floor of the Student Services Center.
Here’s a very important parking pro tip: There’s plenty of parking abundantly available all semester-long at overflow lots on Bundy campus with free shuttles to SMC’s main campus every 14 minutes via Big Blue Bus #44 (remember you need a permit to park on any SMC campus). Activate your student ID for unlimited rides on all Big Blue Bus lines for free. To transfer for $0.50, purchase a $1 special SMC TAP card—available only at the main campus bookstore. Other car-free/ care-free options to get to campus include Expo train, Waze Carpool ($2 from anywhere in LA until Sept 30), SMC Carpool match, bike, bikeshare, e-scooter, or by foot. If you rideshare, please pick-up and drop-off only on Pico Blvd. between 18th and 19th Streets. Visit the SMC Transportation webpage For details on all these options.
Cal Grants: A very important heads-up: The California Student Aid Commission has announced changes that would substantially increase Cal Grants for students who meet certain criteria. Specifically, the number of paid Competitive Cal Grant awards is going up from 28,500 student recipients to 41,000 statewide. This means that more SMC students will be selected to receive Cal Grants this year. Plus, students who are foster youth will be eligible to receive the Cal Grant for up to eight years, instead of the four-year maximum. And finally, for students with dependent children, those that are Cal Grant B recipients will see an increase from $1,672 to $6,000 per year and those that are Cal Grant C recipients will see an increase from $1,054 to $4,000. These changes will be automatically applied as aid is awarded, but please be sure to check in with the Financial Aid office if you have any questions.
SMC Promise (Deadline Alert!): Don’t forget that the Santa Monica College Promise for first-year, full-time SMC students offers free enrollment & textbook vouchers up to $1,200 for the entire academic year! If you think you might qualify and haven’t signed up yet, check the SMC College Promise page for info, read the FAQ, and go see a counselor to take advantage of this program. Please note that the deadline to sign up for SMC Promise this fall is September 8th, so don’t wait!
If you received the SMC Promise in your first year and completed at least 12 units in both fall and spring with a D or better grade, you qualify for a second-year Promise award. Those eligible have already been notified by email on eligibility and next steps. For those in their first year of SMC Promise, please note that you need to successfully complete (with a grade of D or better) 12 units each semester to be funded for the subsequent semester. If you feel you are struggling at any point in the semester, please see a counselor early for assistance so that you can maintain your status.
Take Care of Yourself: Being a college student can be stressful—so many of you are enrolled at SMC in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Taking care of yourself is very important—I cannot emphasize this enough. SMC recognizes that personal wellness and wellbeing is crucial to your success, and this is why there’s a whole center dedicated to just that: please visit SMC’s Center for Wellness and Wellbeing, in the Liberal Arts building (Room 110) anytime you need one-on-one support. You can also call the office at (310) 434-4503 OR a free 24/7 emotional support line anytime at 1 (800) 691-6003. Plus, Student Health Services is there to meet your basic healthcare needs (located on the bottom floor of Cayton Center, also reachable via phone at 310-434-4262).
Fresh Food—and Then Some: SMC’s Office of Student Life and Associated Students have created several programs to help provide nutritious food. Don’t miss the free farmer’s market “Corsair Market” on SMC’s main campus every Wednesday in the cafeteria (be sure to bring your student I.D. and a bag). Thanks to A.S., there’s also a free food voucher program called FLVR; 7 food closets called “The Galley” (locations: Student Life/Cayton Center; Black Collegians/Adelante; EOP&S; Veterans Resource Center; Athletics; STEM office in Drescher Hall; and the Photography office, on the first floor of Drescher). SMC is also partnering with CalFresh to help students who are eligible sign up for the federal food assistance program; those who qualify might be eligible for up to $192 per month in CalFresh benefits. You’ll spot the CalFresh Mobile on the main campus at various events between the south quad and library. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on CalFresh and other options, or check out the Food Security Programs webpage.
Safety: Your safety is paramount. SMC’s Police Department has created a campus safety app called “LiveSafe” and I encourage you strongly to download it on to your phone. This app is a quick, convenient, and discreet way for you to communicate directly with SMC safety officials, and provides a way to help SMC’s Police Department to better protect you. That said, please remember that we rely on everyone to help keep SMC safe: this means that if you see something, you should (please) say something. LiveSafe is a tool to help you do just that!
Have Some Fun & Find Your Community: Are you into music? Learning a new language? Anthropology? Art? Dancing? Chances are tremendously high that there’s a student club just for someone like you! Santa Monica College is an incredibly diverse campus—here it may also be noted that more international students come to SMC than any other two-year college in California—and you will find the world here, literally. During most fall (and spring) semesters, there are upwards of 60 student clubs registered with the Inter-Club Council, and you have so many options available to have fun and find like-minded friends when you’re not in class. And, if a club that meets your interests doesn’t exist, YOU can always start a club! Find out about joining a club, or starting one.
Don’t forget to also take advantage of the huge array of extra-curricular activities SMC offers just for you. These include concerts, dance performances, plays, athletic events (Go Corsairs!), and recreational options (most events are free or feature steeply discounted student tickets). And, if you’re seeking intellectual engagement outside the classroom, there are tons of free guest lectures with renowned experts and great speakers. Check out all events for Fall 2019. Plus, for social media channels associated with SMC—so you can stay connected and get the latest and best information on events and more—go to SMC Social Media Directory.
Not On Our Campus | A Reminder of SMC’s Values: In fall 2018, Associated Students, Student Life and SMC’s Police Department launched a campaign called “Not on Our Campus” (NOOC). This campaign seeks to empower every member of the SMC community to help create an environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone. Look for more information from Associated Students regarding activities coming up this fall. For a pledge you can take, check out this webpage and to read more about what led SMC to launch this campaign, here’s a letter I wrote in fall 2018. In a world increasingly divided, SMC continues to hold fast to our values of diversity and inclusivity, one that leaves no room for hate or bigotry against any member of our community. Together, I am confident that we can build the kind of world where mutual respect thrives.
Thank you for choosing Santa Monica College—we take the privilege of serving and educating you very seriously. SMC’s world-class professors and instructors are among the best in their fields; I encourage you to take full advantage of office hours, and whenever you need help, just reach out to a professor or counselor.
I look forward to celebrating your successes here at SMC—and beyond! Have a wonderful Fall semester—