UCLA project designed for undocumented college students is attracting interest

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Photo by Chris Radcliff via Flickr Creative Commons

Though classes will be held online, National Dream University is a partnership of the UCLA Center for Labor and Research and the National Labor College.

A small group of 35 will be the inaugural class of a new UCLA project designed for undocumented students.

So far, National Dream University has received 16 applications in its first two weeks. Applications are due in early October, and the first class will begin in January of 2013.

The program was inspired by a similar effort started in Georgia last year, which tried to enroll immigrant students who were in the country illegally, and who weren’t accepted at nearby colleges.

UCLA’s version will be taught online with two residencies: one at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Maryland, and another at the UCLA Center for Labor Research in LA. It is a partnership between the UCLA Center for Labor and Research and the National Labor College, which will be granting the college credit for the courses.

Project coordinator Alma Castrejon says the one-year program of six courses — or 18 credit hours — will allow undocumented students to then transfer to two- or four-year institutions. It’ll cost students $2,500 dollars a year; a portion of the cost at other nonprofit, higher learning institutions.

“Admissions to our university are open to anyone that can meet our requirements, regardless of their immigration status," says Castrejon, specifying that naturalized immigrants and non-immigrants will be accepted into the program as well. "What we’re asking for applicants, is to have graduated from a US high school; to have maintained a minimum of 2.7 cumulative GPA, and have demonstrated activism within the immigrant rights community, or the labor rights movement.”

The classes will be taught by Civil Rights leaders like Reverend James Lawson and Tom Hayden, as well as immigrant youth movement leaders from around the country. But it’s this emphasis on activism that’s earned the program some criticism.

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