The Southwestern Community College District, located south of San Diego and extending to the U.S.—Mexico border, is one of 72 community college districts in the California Community College system. It serves as the primary source of college education for approximately 400,000 residents of the South San Diego County area including the communities of Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Nestor, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro, Sunnyside, and Coronado.
The college began offering classes to 1,657 students in 1961, with temporary quarters in Chula Vista High School. Groundbreaking for the present 156-acre campus was in 1963 and by September 1964, initial construction was completed and classes were being held at the new campus on the corner of Otay Lakes Road and East H Street in Chula Vista.
In 1988, Southwestern College established its Higher Education Center at San Ysidro on the memorial site of the McDonald’s tragedy. The college again expanded its off-campus locations in 1998 by establishing the Higher Education Center at National City, and in 2007, the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa officially opened.
In addition to its centers, Southwestern College also provides off-campus classes at several extension sites throughout the district and operates an Aquatic Center in Coronado in conjunction with the California Department of Boating and Waterways. Current enrollment—at all locations—exceeds 19,000 students. More than a half-million students have attended Southwestern College.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has continuously accredited Southwestern College. The college offers a comprehensive curriculum, preparing students for transfer to four-year colleges or universities as well as preparing students for jobs and career advancement. Of the more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide, Southwestern College consistently places in the top 100 in the number of associate degrees conferred.