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University of California Santa Barbara
Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA)

MESA College Prep Program

The MESA College Prep Program is an academic preparation program of the University of California, Office of the President, which has provided academic enrichment and college preparation to first-generation college middle and high school students since 1970. UCSB’s MESA College Prep Programs are delivered to students at Santa Barbara and Ventura County partnership schools where teachers serve as MESA Advisors, offering students support in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subject areas through hands-on, problem-solving projects and challenges. To encourage innovation and peer mentoring, MESA conducts STEM focused competitions. With a core goal of increasing college-going rates, MESA also provides academic and college preparation and career education to MESA students and their families, a strategy that has proven effective at preparing students for college admission and STEM careers.

"We appreciate all that you do at UCSB to reach out to students, not just on MESA Day, but all throughout the year…these are the things that inspire students at a young age!"

– Maria Elena Plaza, Principal, RJ Frank Intermediate School

Partnering Schools

Middle Schools

  • El Camino Junior High
  • Fremont Academy of Environmental Science and Innovative Design
  • Isbell Middle School
  • Kermit McKenzie Intermediate School
  • La Cumbre Junior High School
  • R.J. Frank Academy of Marine Science and Engineering
  • Rio del Valle Middle School
  • Rio Real Elementary School
  • Rio Vista Middle School

High Schools

  • Adolfo Camarillo High School
  • Carpinteria High School
  • Channel Islands High School
  • Dos Pueblos High School
  • Hueneme High School
  • Oxnard High School
  • Pacifica High School
  • Rio Mesa High School
  • San Marcos High School
  • Santa Paula High School


Transcript Evaluation Service (TES) & Individual Academic Plans – MESA staff review TES reports with all 9th-12th grade students to help them stay on track with their A-G requirements and aid them in becoming CSU and UC eligible. Each 8th-12th grade student will develop an individual academic plan (IAP) with the MESA staff to help map their courses and academic goals. MESA staff in conjunction with school counselors will advise and monitor individual MESA students' progress.

SAT/PSAT Preparation – Students review and prepare to succeed and score high on these challenging college entrance tests.

Study Skills Training – Students learn the essential skills needed for ongoing academic achievement and college preparation.

MESA Day Competitions and Academies – Hands-on math and science competitions progressing from local MESA Center to Regional, then on to Statewide levels. MESA Days provide students a chance to prepare for and compete in interactive STEM projects and academic challenges with opportunities to earn awards and recognition. Students practice teamwork, develop research and presentation skills, meet other MESA students and mentors, and visit college campuses (including UCSB).

Career and college exploration – Guest speakers, college research and college visits introduce students to a range of college and major options and clarify the education requirements for interesting STEM careers.

Parent Leadership Development – Parents are welcomed into MESA and are given tools and support by staff and MESA Advisors to become more effective at advocating for their child's academic success.

MESA Class Periods – MESA classes, held during regular hours in some schools, that allow Advisors (usually math or science teachers) to work with students on study skills, homework, group projects, and related math and science lessons that include problem solving and interactive MESA activities.

Teacher Training – Professional development sessions and biennial institutes allow MESA Advisors (teachers) to share their skills and learn interactive activities, innovative curricula as well as new techniques for teaching math and science. MESA College Prep Centers are based at universities and have ties with faculty members. MESA College Prep sites are located throughout California, where faculty and academic resources are available and tied directly to schools and districts. The MESA College Prep program provides various professional development opportunities and California MESA also provides resources.