Southwestern College (San Diego)

| Staff Writers

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Located in the southern part of San Diego County between the city of San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico international border, Southwestern College is the southernmost of the 113 public community colleges scattered throughout the state of California. Founded in 1961, it currently offers more than 320 Associate degree and certificate programs and serves more than 20,000 students every semester. In addition, non-credit options are available for those seeking to enhance personal or professional development but are not actively seeking a further degree.

Southwestern College has five campuses scattered throughout the southern part of the county and guarantees transfer to any of the California State Universities for students involved in the Associate Degree Transfer program. Within this program, students complete the common general education course requirements for a four-year degree, along with prerequisite and foundational coursework in the subject area of choice, to include the areas of psychology and sociology as offered within the Behavioral Sciences Department of the School of Arts, Communications, and Social Sciences.

Southwestern College Accreditation Details

Southwestern College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to provide educational services, programs, and training that meet the standards of the Department of Education. The college has been continually accredited since 1964 to award Associate degrees in its various programs and majors and to provide the groundwork for students wishing to transfer to a four-year or higher university to achieve more advanced degrees.

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Southwestern College Application Requirements

As a public community college, admission to Southwestern College is open to anyone with a high school degree or GED, or who has attained the age of 18 or older and feels he or she could benefit from college instruction. That being said, after the application is submitted, prospective students must still arrange for all previous school transcripts to be sent directly to the admissions and records office before being able to register for classes. In addition, students are required to take an assessment test to determine placement and readiness for the rigor of college level coursework, attend an online orientation session, and clear any prerequisites needed for desired courses.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Community college is one of the most affordable ways to earn a two-year degree or gain valuable skills within a chosen profession or trade. Whether a student plans to transfer to a four-year college after earning an Associate degree or simply plans to enter the workforce, his or her choice to take courses at Southwestern College makes good economic sense. Students are assessed an enrollment fee for courses at the rate of $46 per unit for one or more units, with out-of-state residents adding an additional $211 per unit. In most cases, each course is made up of three units.

Financial aid is available for students who need it, in all the standard forms of scholarships, grants, and loans, at both the federal and state assistance levels. Students should begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and designating Southwestern College as a school of choice. From there, the Student Services financial aid office can help coordinate and distribute any aid received.

Psychology and Counseling Pathways at Southwestern College

Southwestern College offers an Associate of Art in Psychology degree intended for students who will transfer to a four-year university and seek a Bachelor degree or higher in this field. In addition to the general education requirements for the Associate degree, the psychology major involves between 18 and 20 units in courses within the Behavioral Sciences Department.

The Psychology degree is designed to provide foundational knowledge in the variety of sub-fields and in the nature of scientific inquiry in general, particularly as it applies to insights into the human condition and what makes us all tick. Some of the courses involved in this program include General Psychology, Introduction to Psychological Research, Academic and Career Options in Psychology, and choices of several other Introduction courses in such areas as Sociology, Physiological Psychology, and Biology or Cellular and Molecular Biology.

In addition, while Southwestern College does not offer a specific degree or program in Counseling, there are options for students who again wish to gain foundational knowledge in a related field and then go on to a four-year college to pursue a more specific degree or career focus. For instance, the Family Studies Department offers an Associate of Arts degree in Child Development that is designed for students who will then transfer to a four-year or higher program in any number of fields, including elementary or preschool education, psychology, social work, and counseling. Courses involved with this degree include Principles of Child Development, Introduction to Sociology, Statistical Methods of Sociology or Psychology, and Observation and Documentation.

Finally, Southwestern College offers an Associate of Art degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis of the student’s choice, again designed for students who wish to get the general education requirements completed and gain foundational knowledge in a specific discipline before transferring to a four-year university. Students interested in eventual careers in psychology or counseling would choose the emphasis on social and behavioral sciences. In this instance, the coursework would include a minimum of 18 units in a variety of disciplines, to include psychology, sociology, communications, and anthropology. Students are encouraged to take courses in at least two disciplines to provide a broad base, but also to take at least two courses in any one discipline for depth. By specifically choosing an Associate of Art degree for Transfer, students at this college are assured automatic acceptance into any of the California state universities.

Whether the ultimate goal is to obtain a baccalaureate degree or higher or simply to gain skills necessary for a more satisfying career, beginning a higher education journey by taking courses at a community college can be not only a wise financial choice, but it can also provide an easier and sometimes more gradual transition from high school to college. Alternately, for students who wish to return to college after being out of high school for several years may find the experience more user-friendly at a community college. Whatever the reason for choosing this path, Southwestern College provides unparalleled support, tutoring, assistance, and guidance throughout the student’s time there.

See also: 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Art Therapy, Ranked by Affordability

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