Future College Parent Podcast - Pedro

College is like a slice of pizza – Pedro Martinez

In the third episode of the Future College Parent Podcast, I had the honor to speak to Mr. Pedro Martinez, director of Admission at Cal Poly Humboldt. Pedro and I first met for the first time recording this episode. And I have to tell you, this is one of the most genuine humans I’ve met in my higher education career. I was really appreciative of Pedro sharing his narrative of being Hispanic, from a small town and the struggles he faced growing up. He’s proof you can come from anywhere and do anything! During the episode you’ll hear Pedro talk about Humboldt State University becoming a certified Cal Poly institution in the coming months. I’m happy to announce Humboldt State University is now Cal Poly Humboldt. Pedro mentions this designation will immediately change the admissions process but will add some more academic programs to the institution. Congratulations, Cal Poly Humboldt!

Episode Timeline:

[00:56] Introducing Pedro Martinez
[02:19] Pedro’s role in supporting parents and students in getting college and career ready
[04:04] Pedro’s journey from high school to college
[08:18] Cal Poly Humboldt admission requirements and study levels
[15:21] Meeting basic admission requirements is enough to get admitted
[18:58] Questions parents should be asking about Humboldt
[22:08] Pedro’s advice to the secondary education system.
[26:07] Developing a relationship with the administration.
[29:15] Justin’s 5 takeaways from the episode.

Five things I learned from my talk with Pedro!

1. Cal Poly Humboldt currently admits over 90% of students who apply! Most of these students have met the California Department of Education graduation requirements referred to as the “A-G course list.” Congratulations! Your student CAN attend a public four-year institution! If you’re worried your student won’t exactly meet one or more of the admissions requirements, reach out to admissions counselors at an institution. They are trained to work with you to develop a pathway to admission. Listeners outside of the state of California can check their local school district or state education department website for their state’s graduation and higher education institutional requirements for admission.
2. Check with your local high school administration to see if they have connections with colleges, both local and beyond. If they don’t ask them to help you to make the connection to a school!
3. Applying to a college isn’t just about applying and going. Remember Pedro’s funnel analogy. Starting with good high school preparation and gaining an understanding of your ability and willingness to pay for college, your student can then apply and follow the steps to be proactive and make sure they are on the path from preparation, through admission, to course registration.
4. Ask a potential school where you as a parent fit in. Often we hear in the popular media of overinvolved parents reaking havoc on campuses! This doesn’t have to be the case for you, ask the question about where you can provide support both from afar, and when you visit the campus.
5. Say thank you to your high school faculty, staff, and administrators. They create the environment for your student to be academically and personally successful. We cannot thank them enough for the work they do.


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Lesson Plan & Activity: Leaders of activities your student is involved in, and your school administrators can download the lesson plan and activity for this episode to help teach all Future College Parents the content of this podcast episode.

Parent Action Plan!: Parents can download the action plan document to actively engage with their student, secondary, and post-secondary professionals to help their student prepare, chose and finance college.

Lesson Plan & Worksheet: Leaders of activities your student is involved in, and your school administrators can download the Lesson Plan and Worksheet for this episode to help teach all Future College Parents the content of this podcast episode.


Justin Alger 00:19
Pedro, welcome to the future college parent podcast and thanks for being here. And helping future college parents and thank you for being one of our first six guests. You our guest number three in our six-episode premiere of the future college parent podcast. Pedro, welcome to the show.

Pedro Martinez 02:12
Hey, it’s great to be here. Thanks for letting me be here and speak to the parents and yourself and answering questions.

Justin Alger 02:17
Absolutely glad that you are here. So, if we could start off, can you please share what your role is and segue into describing in what capacity you support parents and students in getting college and career ready?

Pedro Martinez 02:30
Yeah, I’ve actually been in higher education for 20 plus years, and I have spanned almost every aspect of that career that included. Being an ambassador for a university tour guide, an office assistant with recruitment became you know, as an admissions counselor, and raise the ranks into administration. And now I’m the Director of Admissions at Humboldt State University. But within that duty, not only do I help with the students coming in for various different classes, from graduate programs to undergraduate programs, I also am responsible for enrollment communications, basically the communications that go to all students and parents, as it pertains to what the university is doing. And various topics from admissions to continuing registration to safety updates, a variety of different things that relate to information that gets relayed to families and students themselves. In addition to that, I also run other programs on campus such as Project rebound, which is a special program for those that have a formerly incarcerated background to also other programs that focus on special needs of students and underrepresented student populations. So various things get kind of introduced to me. And I’ve been doing this for several years and focused on trying to support students achieve their dream of academic college success and being able to obtain a degree that allows them to live the dream that they want to live each day. So, I’ve been excited to be here during these 20 years.

Justin Alger 04:05
If you could tell me a little bit about your journey from high school to college, what do you think informed the path that you’re on now?

Pedro Martinez 04:14
I’m born and raised in California. So, I came from a small farming community outside of Fresno, California, that town being Parlier, California, which was a small, small community. We had a very small graduating class and during that time in my journey, college was different for us. You know, we lived in a farm labor community we saw so many students go through the journey and try to find opportunities. I had a special journey in junior high where there was a moment in my career that some people that I looked up to, didn’t necessarily see that opportunity for me in this type of position. They would never have seen me as a Director of Admissions. They never saw me in that awkward because of, you know, my background, being Hispanic and being in small town, and at that moment that kind of shattered my dreams at the moment, and I, you know, spoke to my family and kind of looked at it, my dad was all about education, my mom was one about just achieving your dreams. And at that moment, looking at that, it really drove me through my high school years to do that. And I had, I had a moment there. And I shared this with a lot of students, a lot of families, I found college through pizza. Pizza has always been my big thing. And I’ve shared it so many times with people. Because I sat there as a kid, enjoying pizza, and really thought about the college journey. And the college journey centered around, there’s so many colleges I looked at, at different name brand, pizza, companies, pizza A, pizza B, pizza C you know, all they all created pizza, they all looked almost the same, but they all tasted different. And it really hit me at that moment that that’s what I wanted to do is really learn about colleges and understand the differences between this one college and another college because they all serve as the same type of product, but they did it in a different way. And it helped me understand what I was looking for. And I wanted to try everything. And so, I talked to my parents, I wanted to learn more about these opportunities about going out there and seeing what we have in store. And so, they took me to places they helped me explore campuses, I had other individuals as I got into my high school years explain that. But all I knew at the beginning was I needed to get good grades. And I needed to start off on the right foot. There was one person from Fresno State that was a young ambassador, young student that came in our freshman year and reiterated just the idea, get good grades, get good grades, starting in your freshman year. And so, I spent my whole time just focused on that as I tried to learn more about every campus I could think of. And as I went through that I had a long list and I whittled it down and it whittled down and to the point where I became a senior and came down to my big, big opportunities. And I got I got East Coast schools to admit me I got in state schools and big schools, small schools. But throughout that entire journey, as I tasted, every single moment that I had on a college campus, I learned something different from each of those campuses. And I learned with my family. And I learned about my family and what really made me, me, and my decision for a college had to be about me. But it also had to do with what influenced me. And so, I learned a lot from that journey on where I would go and what campus I would pick. But at the end of the day, I had to pick the one that best suited me, and it was my alma mater, Fresno State, I went to that, that location and I started my degree path there. And to become a teacher, I always wanted to be a teacher and kind of went that route. But since junior high when I had that opportunity. And it even goes back to even my third-grade teacher, Miss Multimo, which I still can go to and talk to She was an amazing teacher. And she inspired me to be an educator and to be in that pathway. And as I went to junior high, it had my experience and the negative experience from it. That really drove my next four years to really drive it to be the very best and to prove everyone wrong, that I could do something amazing. It could be somewhere. And everywhere. I learned everything I could I explored everything, and I went through the process.

Justin Alger 08:18
Can you share with us a little bit about humbles the admissions requirements, the programs of study and levels of study these types of things?

Pedro Martinez 08:26
Yeah, definitely. So, Humboldt State University is one of 23 C issues in the California State University system. And our admissions requirements are common through all 23 campuses, we basically if you’re a first-time freshman, or basically a senior that’s graduating, that’s going to become a first-time freshman at our campus. We require A through G requirements, which is not always depending on your audience across different states would not necessarily have that language in your high school. But basically, that’s four years of English three years of math, two years of biological or are other types of science, foreign language, arts, extracurricular. So, there’s various topics that we have on our admissions website that explain more. And currently we’re not requiring the essay T or AC t as far as admissions requirements across our CSU due to the fact that not every student has been able to take that exam on a regular basis. And so, we modified a requirement to a multiple factor. So, we take the A through G, we take the GPA, and various other factors that we get from our application data and make a determination if you’re CSU eligible. And each one kind of each campus is a little unique in some of the ways they do it. But for the most part, it’s pretty consistent with GPA and A through G requirements of coursework. We also accept lower division students as well lower division students are those that are less than 60 minutes but are now attending a community college or have other college coursework that don’t make them an upper division student, but they’re not a high school student. And so, they’re kind of in between. So, we have various ways of accessing ASU through our admissions process. So basically, almost any student has access to what could be in the next few months of potential certified Cal Poly institution. Right now, we’re just a State University and we hopefully to get we’ll get that designation soon, which won’t necessarily change our admissions process. But we’ll add some different types of programming in the future. So, our university has three academic colleges, undergrad, we have a professional studies College, we have a College of Natural Resources and sciences, and we have an arts and humanities, each of which have various programs and each of their areas.

Justin Alger 10:37
Now tell me again, what are the big set, you call them the Big Six for admission?

Pedro Martinez 10:42
They’re basically in California, we have A through G requirements, which basically encompass various high school disciplines, from mathematics, to science, to arts, and so forth. Each category has a particular topic. And we require certain coursework in each of those classes to help students enter the campus, when it when it comes down to preparation. And so, we take all of those courses into account along with the GPA that will help us build our admissions offer.

Justin Alger 11:10
So, is when I look at the iPads data? And if I if I do the math correctly, you accept about 92% of students? Is that correct?

Pedro Martinez 11:21
Yes, we’re very, accessible. And we’ve been continually growing our access, when the recent time because we have, we’ve lowered our GPA to a point where allows greater access to students, and we’re in a position of growth. So, we’re looking to access even more students to our campus through their academic performance.

Justin Alger 11:41
So, it’s not difficult per se to get into Humboldt?

Pedro Martinez 11:44
At this time, No.

Justin Alger 11:45
As long as you meet, these AG requirements.

Pedro Martinez 11:49
Yeah, we’ve created an opportunity for access, we’re looking to grow our student population, and when we look to see ourselves expand, and so factors being what they are, currently have a lot of a little bit more rain to create even more access for students, we definitely want to support any student to try to go through this process. We have admissions counselors that are on my staff that work with families and do constant presentations. So, regarding these requirements, and we have those that just specifically understand how to work with families outside our state of California and focus on the different areas that they need to go ahead and help prepare themselves because like I mentioned, maybe your audience doesn’t live in California, your audiences on different locations in the US, some of these states don’t require the same requirements as California does. And so, some of the students would not be aware of those requirements, we take that into consideration. So, we look at those items, and we understand what state they’re coming from. And we try to help prepare them to meet all the requirements as easily as possible and assure that they meet everything. And if it’s something that we can quickly suggest, we encourage that. And many of our see issues also have other departments just like mine, that have a specific branch focused on supporting students that want to look at our admissions process and can actually sit with a counselor or do a group presentation to better understand and ask questions to help them meet these requirements. Because they, they see they seem simplistic, but they sometimes get a little bit more complicated when now you start looking at your situation. And there’s people here in the CSU system, and all 23 to help those students and families really understand those requirements. And I think that’s the critical piece, we walk away from that worried about what the requirements are, because they’re unique slightly within each campus, even though they’re based in the same foundation. But really, where do I get the support? How do I go get the answers to my questions? And how do they help me go ahead and process these items every step of the way. And you know, every student that we get, we walk through what we call the funnel winning missions, it’s a funnel, they go from one stage to the next stage to the next stage. And as they go through it, they have new things that they have to either accomplish or do. You know, when you first submit an application, you’ve got to send in some documents for us to verify. As you go through that next stage, there is a stage of okay, now I’ve been offered admission, I need to go ahead and actually get some other things done, like get my scholarship application, give my other items. And as far as any missing item that I need to finish any requirement for tuition, any residency documents, anything like that. And so, for each phase, these individuals that I talked about are present in each of our campus to help kind of migrate themselves through each of these phases and get to the point where, when may come around, it’s decision time. And they have to pick that one campus and if they’ve selected us, they had, they basically would have completed everything that they needed to do to prepare themselves for registering for courses in the summer for the coming term that they’re coming into, or if they’re in spring, doing it in January. So, the biggest point or like I said that I would walk away from I’m not really worried about the requirements, really worried about making sure you get in front of people that can answer your questions, and that’s the admissions counselors or the outreach teams that are available each of our campuses.

Justin Alger 15:04
And that’s great. And to speak to your point about my listeners, I think for the show, I’m hoping that with a with a big draw like Pedro Martinez on the docket that way that I draw some California listeners, right. That’s what we hope right. And I do grant that, or I do understand that each state, of course, and each school specifically has their own admissions requirements. But the point that I’m trying to get to be that, you know, a see in the popular media, right. So specifically, I think about the recent admissions scandal, you hear of, all these, or you hear these stories, where people are doing all these crazy things in order to gain access to higher education, and humble and in a lot of the CSU. And I think it’s a mission of the public access, right? That as long as you meet these minimum requirements of the secondary education, during your secondary education, then admission is pretty much a formality at that point, as long as you’re, as long as you’re meeting these basic requirements, is that accurate to say?

Pedro Martinez 16:21
That would be accurate. And I think one of the other points that I think many people when we’re when we’re here at our campus, that each issue, my team is strategically positioned to help students find that out, if for some reason, a student and this is, again, something similar to all of our campuses, is, if a student comes to see us and communicates with us, and looks at us and say, I really want to be at ASU, I have a goal to be here. And we look at the requirements. And if for some reason, we see something that is probably going to be problematic, and them getting admitted in the fall that formality and they have something that comes up that puts a red flag on us. My team is trained on trying to find a solution to help get them admissible as soon as possible. So that might be taking a semester not to be here and actually starting in the fall, because there’s something we can do and prepare, get them regularly admissible. And so, there’s not the need to try to fight to get in here, we’re preparing the pathway to get here, if we can find the pathway to do it within the term that they’re in, and they’re able to get in the cycle we will do. So, if it’s something that is going to take a little bit longer, we provide that pathway of different steps that they need to do. And if they accomplish those steps, they’re going to find their pathway. And so even if they’re not admissible immediately, and they’re working with us, we will find a pathway to get them here. And that’s, I think, something that he prides itself on is that we’re trying to create, access. And if you’re wanting to be here, there’s a pathway as long as you’re willing to walk that pathway. So, I’m not necessarily as easy as others. But once we can do that, those parents, those students feel much more comfortable and know that they’re still going to get there. But I think the other portion that comes with that, as in the preparation is that you’re still working towards a degree. So even if you’re not admissible at that point, I still train my staff to make sure that they’re looking at the best steps that move forward, that help those students, one gets admitted to ASU in the future, but also are still moving towards a degree. So, when they arrive here, it’s like they did start here with us and continue moving that degree forward. So, they can still graduate on their on the schedule, they’re planning. That’s our ultimate goal. And I think that’s something that I think many parents and students should be looking at is the idea of like, even though I’m not ready for that, maybe I’m not prepared to come in directly, that there’s a plan for me to get that still that obtain that degree in the schedule I need to have.

Justin Alger 18:53
Can you share some of the questions that that parents and families don’t ask that you wish that they would ask about humble?

Pedro Martinez 19:01
Oh, what would they ask about humble? I think, when a parent comes on the campus, and they’re in there looking at it, I think, you know, most parents ask you, how can I stay connected? And are not they don’t ask how they can stay connected as often as they can. I think they’re the thing Hawk is that in the future. No, ask it today. And really, really dive into how can I stay connected? Because again, when I think I mentioned it in, our discussion, is, you know, staying connected, it’s a family thing. There’s a legacy here, there’s multiple families, and I think when a when a student decides to come here, and if they’re the first one in their family to come here, we want parents to be involved. And so, we actually have different ways for parents to stay engaged. And they don’t answer those questions. When they arrive on campus. They don’t ask, how do I get connected? How do I stay connected? What’s going on? And there’s ways there to do that and families when they ask that question, finally themselves, also looking to become humbled state. And I think that’s something they too can be humbled state as much as their, their child. And we’re not saying, you know, I’m not encouraging the parent to be like, I’m going to go to college you have too No, not necessarily. It’s, bringing them here to be a part of that experience with them. Because they’re here for four years. They’re here exploring, they’re here diving into this. And I think we’re the parent, we want them just to visit just as much to explore and experience this because that that child is getting experiences that they probably realized, I’d love to share with my family, I’d like to take them to a local restaurant that I love totally. And they’ll never get to experience if they don’t come visit. So, making that welcomed visit and asking that question of like, what can we do? Where’s it for us? It’s an unusual question that no family’s ever really asked. But I think our tour guides and our staff are ready to kind of mention those things and explore those things. Because then they feel I can be part of that experience, too. Maybe only for a day or two. But it can be for me. And I really want to encourage that. You know, those are, you would think I’d be saying, hey, they should ask more about our academic colleges, and, and so forth, we’re going to give that to the student, we’re going to share that with the student. Because that parent, ask those types of questions. They’re going to have a conversation and say what you think, oh, I like this. I really like that because of x. And this is why I’d love to see you attend there. Because when I come there, we’ll be able to do stuff. So hopefully you enjoy yourself. But we find we see ourselves coming to visit you more often. Because how many times do, we hear that same? I’m sending them off to college, and they’re gone. And then they sit back. And they and they think about they’re gone. I can only imagine how many parents like myself, I’m going through it with my young one. She’s about to graduate, and she’s about to go into a college search and go look for what college and maybe our campus and maybe another and in her search and going to do that. I went with her, and I looked at the same thing. Where can I come bond with you? Because I’m not I’m going to miss you. As soon as you’re gone.

Justin Alger 22:07
The last question that I’m asking everyone is that higher ed, and secondary, I don’t have a formal way of communicating. And so, in your role, let’s just let’s make you a spokesperson for higher education. So, can you provide some advice to secondary education?

Pedro Martinez 22:26
So, we’re looking at the high schools and so forth out there in the humanities. Okay. So, are you sorry, I’m sorry, I take that back? So, you’re talking about our universities? Looking at universities?

Justin Alger 22:38
Yes, I’m saying the higher ed doesn’t talk to secondary ed in a formal way. I’m sure you have articulation agreements with high schools, and you talk specifically, or you have some superintendents or such that you that you reach out to, or communicate with you from saying broadly higher than secondary, I don’t necessarily talk

Pedro Martinez 22:58
Yeah. So, you know, when it comes down to it, luckily enough, we talk a lot. We’ve created, I think an environment that we try to talk more often than not, we try to keep open dialogues, I think, I think our superintendents and our counselors and our different staff at secondary education levels and can connect with us at any time. And we create opportunities. And I think, most of the time we go in and obtain facts, information and take back in our case, and I guess I could speak to it because I do try to practices is trying to be in constant connection with them. You know, I have superintendents directly texting me and talking to me about issues and understanding things. And really, the reason why we do that is simply because we’re all on the same mindset. We want our students to excel and succeed. And sometimes there are barriers that get presented some that are presented to us some that are surprises, others are unintentional. And they are just we discovered them through the process of moving through something. And I really encourage every institution to really just think, connect, connect constantly, figure out ways chat beyond the basic facts, figure out ways to deliver things. And at that point, when we deliver those solutions, we’re answering those questions for schools, and we build a greater bond, because now we feel like we’re connected, yet we’re different. Right? And sometimes we discovered that, you know, there’s an issue that we never thought about, because we didn’t vocalize that. And I think conversation continues to develop and then it becomes to action. And if we can take that conversation and create an action that’s thoughtful, and that’s meaningful. We end up seeing change and positive change, positive change for the families, positive change for the student. And it’s definitely something that that all of us should really continue to take part in, constantly is to stay open to communication. I actually, just recently during COVID. During this time when students were not at school, and they were all virtual, everyone was attending virtually. But we had moments here and there where we could meet with administration, because we had to pick up paperwork or we had to do something, right. I went to my local high school that my kids attend. And I literally as a higher ed institution, going to this school district and literally said, I feel for all of you, I understand how different this must feel. And thank you for trying your best to stay connected, when you don’t have that natural way of connecting with your students, my children, when they walk the halls, you got to say hello every morning and connect with it, learn about them discover them. Today you don’t. But that’s a bond between us. And now we can work together. And we tried to create those bonds create opportunity. So, I think when it comes down and secondary, there’s moments like that, plus so many others, simply because we try to sit with you and have a nice conversation. Stay connected. So that would be my advice.

Justin Alger 26:07
So even though there isn’t formal communication, pathways that are established, it’s not that you’re not or higher education specifically isn’t? Is it willing to have these conversations at the campus level, or at your level? You just have to facilitate that conversation from the from the secondary level. And so, for parents, maybe the take home would be if there isn’t any sort of or knowing that there that there isn’t a direct communication pathway to speak through the administration of the school, to reach out to a higher education institution to develop that relationship.

Pedro Martinez 26:55
Oh, yeah. I mean, they can encourage I mean, there’s so many times that I tell I tell parents, I’m like, if you really love what we’re doing, because I have, like you’re doing amazing things, share it with your administration, go tell your principal, your superintendent, whoever, and let them know about us and the experience that you have, because they may not know and they may want to have a partnership like that, but we never thought about it. And they go build it. And then next thing, you know, they’re connecting, and we begin to develop a relationship. Because we dive in a little deeper, we go ask those tough questions of each other. But what we’re doing is really building a bond, we’re helping them understand we’re in the same boat you are, we’re just at a different stage of it. And so, we need to understand what your families are dealing with and are now coincidentally one of your families came to you and told you, this is amazing. You might want to connect and when we bridge them, greater things can happen. So, I think informal conversations can lead to formal relationships that will really develop and improve our communities and improve our relationships. And they can start small and grow wide. And that’s the amazing part. It can it all has to start with just one brave comment to say, I’m going to take an extra five minutes. And I’m going to reach out to the person. And hopefully it plays itself out

Justin Alger 28:10
Well. And then on the other end, once you have that conversation, taking an additional five minutes to share that conversation with other folks. That could be valuable too as well. Well, I honestly, I think that finishes my question. So, Pedro, I really want to thank you for coming on the future college parent podcast and being guest number three of our first six-episode premiere of the future college parent podcast. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Pedro Martinez 28:36
No problem. I appreciate and love being part of it and answering the questions and I hope that all the parents feel that this was supportive and helpful.