Natomas Center aims for a more personal college experience


The Natomas Center is one of American River College’s four off-site centers, and provides unique programs that help working students graduate and give a head start to high schoolers. (Photo by Anthony Barnes)

Anthony Barnes

College can sometimes be an extremely hectic environment. The main American River College campus is host to over 30,000 students, and sometimes students may feel they get lost in the shuffle.

The Natomas Center, an ARC satellite campus located in the North Natomas area, presents a different space for students who may want a more intimate and direct college experience while still attending ARC and remaining a part of the Los Rios Community College District.

Not only is the Natomas Center home to Los Rios students, it also houses high school students from Inderkum High School in a program that gives them a head start on their college education.

The Natomas Center, which opened in the fall of 2005, is part of the Natomas Town Center Educational Complex, which includes the North Natomas Library and Inderkum High School.

Roger Davidson, dean of the Natomas Center, officially took his role on January 2, and says he sees a bright and thriving future ahead for the campus.

“The goal for the Natomas Center is to have 1,000 full-time equivalent students every year,” Davidson says. “This spring we had 4,178 enrollments, that number includes many students taking more than one class.”

Davidson says he hopes to improve access for students at the Natomas Center and is also working closely with the division of fine and applied arts.

“They’re updating art displays for us pretty regularly, as well as maintaining an art piece in our stairwell that was created by our students several summers ago,” Davidson says.

One notable example of the Natomas Center connecting with students is the fact that its student services are held in one central location.

“One of the things that I think we really excel at here is student services like counseling, financial and admissions and enrollment,” Davidson says.

Davidson addressed his front office team and its efforts to assist students in any way possible.

“All of these people work right here and they all work great together, my team here, we pride ourselves when a student comes to the counter for help. We figure out who needs to help them and how to get that addressed,” Davidson says.

Danielle Orosco is a nursing major in her first semester at the Natomas Center. She believes having fewer students on campus is a benefit.

“[It’s] less busy, less hectic [and has] better parking,” Orosco says.

Another reason why some students prefer the Natomas Center is due to proximity and location.

“I live in Rio Linda, so it’s much closer for me, I like that it’s less crowded,” Orsco says. “The smaller classes definitely are nicer; you feel like you have more one on one with the teachers.”

Davidson says the school’s smaller size allows for more one on one time with students.

“I think many of our Natomas students feel that very deeply and are incredibly grateful for that kind of support because on the main campus there’s 30,000 students; there’s not always time to deal with everyone as an individual,” Davidson says.

The Natomas Center also offers programs that are only offered at the satellite campus. The California Early College Academy is a program that allows students at the neighboring Inderkum High School to take college courses and earn credits.

“It’s really a great opportunity for those high school students and I think it also adds a lot of great perspectives and diversity in our classrooms as well,” Davidson says.

Raul Huerta, a junior at Inderkum High School, is taking anthropology and history classes at the Natomas Center. The CECA program, he says, has had a positive impact on his education.

“It’s pretty helpful, going through these lectures and learning how it is to go to college class,” Huerta says.

Davidson also emphasizes the Natomas Center’s Accelerated College Education (ACE) program. This is a program for adults trying to finish school while also balancing the responsibilities of working full time.

“These are for working adults who want to go back to college and just don’t think they have the time,” Davidson says. “They’re in an eight-week format, so every eight weeks they wrap up a class. The goal is to have them transfer in just two years.”

For more information about both the ACE and CECA programs, students can contact the Natomas Center at (916) 485-6000.