More than 300 high school juniors and seniors have been part of the Training School for Higher Education Admission (EFIES in Spanish). In 2021, 80% of the students who were part of this program, promoted by CMPC and Formando Chile, entered the realm of higher education. Now that the COVID-19 cases have dropped, students have returned to the classrooms located inside the company’s plant in their neighborhood.
Ever since she was 13, Vania Coñolet has wanted to study medicine. After seeing family members go through health problems, she realized that doctors can offer people a great deal of help and support. However, she soon figured out that entering that degree program would not be easy. “It was hard when I realized that they only accept high entrance scores, and I got nervous. I wanted to apply to a university prep school, but I realized that they are very expensive, so I started feeling disillusioned,” she said.
Earlier this year, Vania learned about the Training School for Higher Education Admission (EFIES). She said, “The school told us that there was this university prep that was totally free, and we could apply to it. My mom told me to take advantage of it, and I got excited once again.”
The EFIES program is a free, comprehensive pre-university program that seeks to increase the chances that high school juniors and seniors from the Puente Alto community can enter universities, technical training centers or professional institutes. The program does not have an academic selection process. The only requirement is to be studying in or have already graduated from a municipal or subsidized school that has a school vulnerability index greater than 70%.
Currently, there are 120 students from the community who have gotten academic and emotional support in the EFIES program promoted by CMPC and Formando Chile. After two years of virtual classes, the university prep program returned to in-person classes for mathematics, language, and self-awareness every Saturday from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM at the CMPC plant in Puente Alto.
Assistant Public Affairs Manager at CMPC Francisco Torrealba explained that, “The idea of this program is to give them the tools they need to have more options to access professional education, either in a professional institute or a university, so that they get the chance to continue their studies. The fact that we are now able to reopen the classrooms makes us very happy because it provides a much richer learning dynamic. This is how the program was conceived of at the start. They would come here to have classes with a dedicated place to learn.”
Formando Chile Director Pablo Hormazábal pointed out that the alliance has generated a positive impact on the community. “We are very happy to return to in-person clases this year, and to be able to rediscover a place that welcomed us for so long. It is important that students feel this space as their own along with a deep sense of belonging to the program and motivation to attend. All of the above is even more important in the post-pandemic educational scenario in which complementary programs in addition to regular school have taken on even greater importance, especially for the comprehensive development we aim to promote.”
More than 200 young people from the community have benefited from the program since 2019 when the initiative began. Of the 37 students who were part of the university prep in 2021, 24 entered university degree programs and four went on to technical studies programs.
The educational institutions that they chose most often were the University of Santiago, the Pontifical Catholic University and the Autonomous University. Some of the most frequently chosen degree programs include architecture, psychology, kinesiology and pedagogy.
Javiera Campos, a student who was part of EFIES in 2021 who is now the logistics manager at the Puente Alto branch said, “I feel that it stands out a lot more than other programs because it is free of charge and easily accessible. Another thing that was important to me was that it not only focuses on academics. I learned a lot about how to manage emotions.”
Nicolle Gonzales, another one of the university prep students stressed that, “It has been a very beautiful experience here. In addition to helping you with your studies and answering all your questions, they care about you, too. They help you improve and strengthen your mind. It’s a very important support for that.”
The university prep is not only focused on the academic, but each week there is also a course on vocational goals and socio-emotional skills that help students develop other aspects of their lives, offering a comprehensive education.
“I am very grateful that I applied to EFIES. They have really helped us get prepared and created a great change in my life. I have felt supported at all times. It has been a really cool experience for me,” says Vania.