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UC Merced, OJUSD Partner For The Future

Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, Oakdale High School students will be offered a unique opportunity.

As demand, as well as opportunity for college acceptance continues to a stressor for graduates, the University of California Merced has partnered with the Oakdale Joint Unified School District for the Merced Automatic Admissions Program (MAAP). MAAP allows students to apply early to UC Merced and be guaranteed admission, as long as certain requirements are met.

Assistant Superintendent Gillian Wegener presented MAAP to the OJUSD Board at the November meeting. During that time, she highlighted a number of attributes of the program including the objective.

Wegener shared the program aims to engage students who may not realize they have potential to be admitted to a UC school.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity for our students,” Wegener stated following the monthly meeting. “I learned about the MAAP Program actually when Riverbank signed up and had an article.”

That prompted her to investigate the possibility of an Oakdale-UC Merced partnership.

“I think this process will be so good for our students,” she continued. “Basically, MAAP is just a way to create a pathway to UC Merced for students who fulfill some requirements that are not really more than we’re already asking them to accomplish in high school.”

The assistant superintendent stated she is happy to be able to present the program to students as they look to their future and opportunities for college entry. OHS students can apply for MAAP the summer following their junior year. Keeping in mind that all UC criteria must still be met and while acceptance does not cover tuition or expenses, it is still a unique opportunity for students to attend and be accepted into a UC campus.

“The benefits to them are they get early preliminary review of their application,” Wegener said. “Once they are accepted into the MAAP program, they do have to complete the UC application process, which is October/November of their senior year and they do have to indicate they want to go to UC Merced.”

However, once they do so, they are not restricted to UC Merced. Unlike many other campuses students are still able to entertain acceptance to other campuses they apply to. The students still have flexibility.

“The cool thing about the MAAP Program, is that they indicate they want to go to UC Merced and if they’re accepted into the program, they have automatic admission. It’s not even a question, if they complete the requirements,” Wegener shared.

Reiterating that students will still have to have the appropriate class load to meet requirements prior to their senior year, Wegener shared this will be discussed and reviewed with OJUSD as early as their eighth grade year.

“It is definitely an ongoing conversation, as any planning for college has to be,” she said. “The requirements are important. They have to start planning, even as early as eighth grade.”

UC Merced will do a twice annual review of all OHS students’ transcripts to make sure they are taking the right classes in order to get into the UC’s and make sure they are ready to go.

“Not just for interested students, but for all students,” Wegener said of the review process. “So we can therefore catch students who might be flying under the radar but are moving the right direction to get into the UC Program.”

As the popularity of UC Merced (a relatively young UC) continues to grow, the campus has indicated there are no plans to phase out MAAP. The program was designed for Central Valley students.

“A lot of our students don’t want to go far from home and UC Merced is right there,” Wegener said.

And that is just one reason it is a viable option for area students.

“It doesn’t make UC Merced free, but it does come with a number of really nice perks,” the assistant superintendent concluded. “The help with applications in the fall, the priority reviews in early winter notifications so they can make the decision. Is UC Merced for me or do I want to go to another school? The fact that they still have choice I think is really nice here.”