University NOWOur Purpose

The goal of the University NOW program is to provide an opportunity for under-represented high school students in San Diego to (a) envision themselves as college students, and (b) successfully complete a university-level integrated biology/writing course. The students are typically 11th graders that come to PLNU three days per week in the afternoon. Juniors are the target audience for University NOW because we believe that they have the skills and maturity to handle college material, and they are at that point in their high school career where they are starting to think seriously about college as an option.

The University NOW students enroll in a specially designed interdisciplinary course in Writing and Human Biology & Bioethics that extends over two semesters. Over the duration of the program (since 1997), we have found that the ability to write well is crucial for success in college, and therefore, have incorporated the writing component into the biology course. Upon successful completion of the course, the students may receive one semester of college credit for both biology and introductory writing.

Program Success

University NOW has been extraordinarily successful as measured by the high rate of college entrance in a population that is more than 95% under-represented students. The program allows the students to get a head start on their college course requirements, as well as experience the intensity of college level material, with a built in support system. Essential components of this environment are:  professors from the biology department and the writing department, college-level content, university student tutors who serve as role models, and laboratory experiences. The students also participate in a retreat during the year to help build community and motivation.

High School Partners

We have partnered with several San Diego high schools since 1997. Currently we are partnering with Point Loma High School (San Diego Unified School District).

Financial Support

University NOW is supported by private donors. With the recent California state budget cuts, it is becoming difficult for schools to afford bus transportation costs. Currently one school has withdrawn from the program as a result of the budget crisis. We hope to find more donors to support University NOW so that we can continue to serve 20-30 students per year.

Additionally, PLNU would like to offer tuition scholarships to former University NOW students that want to major in the sciences at PLNU.  With additional private donor support, we can once again offer these scholarships and increase the diversity of students majoring in the sciences at PLNU. 

History of University NOW

Former University NOW Students

University NOW Faculty


Dr. April Cordero Maskiewicz, Program Director
(619) 849-2328