Pre-College Institute

2021 Social Justice Summit - Learn More Here!

Supporting San Diego Schools

Since 1983, the SDSU Pre-College Institute has setup partnerships between federally funded TRIO programs, public schools, and academic departments/research units at the University. The Institute has integrated three existing federally funded programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound Classic, and Upward Bound STAR/Classic) to serve underrepresented students and their teachers in low-income neighborhoods. 

As the landscape of education continues to shift, the SDSU Pre-College Institute is prepared to continue our commitment to our partners and our communities. We believe that supporting our students, as well as their teachers and families is vital to their education, and to the future of our community. 

Congratulations to our Office of Community Engagement for the continued funding of the Talent Search programs for 2022-2027!

Image of Letter About Talent Search Grant

To learn more about the experiences of teachers who have worked with us through the transition to virtual learning, and their support for our programs, read these three letters from teachers within the San Diego Unified School District. 

Letter of Support from SDUSD Teacher

Letter of Support from SDUSD Teacher

Letter of Support from SDUSD Teacher


Our Founder and Executive Director

Cynthia D. Park, Ph.D.

A headshot of Dr. Cynthia D. Park

Cynthia Darché Park has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research. She is the Executive Director and founder of the Pre-College Institute, which houses two Upward Bound Programs, two Talent Search programs, a Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), and Pathways Service-learning Tutoring Program. Dr. Park also directs the HCOP Undergraduate Research Summer Program.

She believes that with the appropriate access to resources, opportunities, services, and support systems, all students can develop a skill set that can help them change their narrative, create a new story, and essentially improve their life chances through advocacy and learning.

Her philosophy begins with, “Accepting the whole student, by honoring the students’ choices, and by providing the student with the academic, social and emotional support to be successful in an environment that is often unfamiliar to that student’s way of being and knowing.”

She cultivates an “Asset-Based Perspective,” in which she believes that all students are competent and capable of succeeding and accomplishing their personal, academic, and professional goals.

Dr. Park is a Professor of Teacher Education, at the SDSU School of Teacher Education. She co-teaches the GEN-S 280 and the TE 362 service-learning courses.

She serves as a faculty mentor for the Faculty-Student Mentoring Program (F-SMP) in which she mentors an average of 10 undergraduate students per year. She works with her mentees through college graduation and into graduate or professional school.

Dr. Park has received numerous local, regional, and national awards for her community engagement and service to underrepresented communities.

Our Programs 


    Talent Search

Upward Bound 

Pathways Service Learning Tutoring

SDSU students provide in-class and after school support in math, science, AVID, English and reading in 20 partner schools. Tutors build community, earn course credit, and give back. We have paid work-study (America Counts & America Reads), limited paid and volunteer positions available each semester. 

Talent Search

Advisors work with students from 8 high schools to prepare for college. Talent Search students participate in career exploration, college visits, and assistance during financial aid and college application process.

Upward Bound/HCOP 

Counselors provide support to participants in preparation for college entrance. In addition to academic advising, tutoring, and assistance with college applications, students attend monthly college prep workshops. Students participate in a Six-Week Summer Experience at SDSU.

PCI Stands in Solidarity...

Contact Us 

Pre-College Institute
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182-1103