Fresno State program opens door to college admission

The new program Bulldog Bound secures qualifying high school students from varying local school districts with a path towards university admission

Fresno State signage located on the north west corner of Shaw Ave. and Maple Ave. (Kenny Goodman)
Darren Fraser
Published September 10, 2023  • 
2:00 pm

FRESNO – Last May, Fresno State University (FSU), in partnership with school districts in Fresno and Tulare counties, launched the Bulldog Bound program, which enables qualifying ninth through 12th grade students to secure admission to the university after they graduate high school.

“This program will pave the way for future generations of diverse and talented students to come to Fresno State,” Fresno State President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval said in an FSU press release. “They will develop and exercise their innate talents towards the benefit of our vibrant community.” 

According to a program description, students who meet the minimum California State University admission requirements, and who attend a school in one of the partner school districts, are eligible for the program.

Local Tulare County school districts include Visalia Unified, Cutler-Orosi Unified, Porterville Unified and Tulare Joint Union High School District. In Fresno County, some participating school districts include Kings Canyon Unified, Sanger Unified, Parlier Unified and Kingsburg Unified.


Liliana Sanchez is a senior at Reedley High School. She said she herself heard about Bulldog Bound in August. 

“Fresno State has always been my number one choice for college,” Sanchez said. “As a little kid, I always went to the football games, and it’s very close to home.” 

For her educational future at the college, Sanchez said she plans to study nursing. 

“Fresno State has a state-of-the-art nursing program,” she said.

After she graduates from Reedley, Sanchez said she will commute to college, because she plans on working at Palm Village Retirement Community as she is taking care of her schooling at Fresno State.

Gabriella Nava is also a senior at Reedley High. Like Sanchez, she heard about Bulldog Bound last August, and said she has plans to study psychology at Fresno State. 

“Fresno State has always been in the top three of my colleges,” Nava said, noting that she will commute to school in the fall. “I think living at home is important.”

Sato Sanikian is the college and career coordinator for Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD). To promote Bulldog Bound, KCUSD is hosting an event on Sept. 18 at the Reedley High Performing Arts Theater.

Thus far, Sanikian said the response from KCUSD students to Bulldog Bound has already been remarkable. 

“We have over 200 students and their parents signed up for the event,” Sanikian said. 


Fresno Unified School District is one of 24 school districts in Fresno and Tulare counties involved in the program. 

“I see this new guaranteed admissions program to Fresno State as a game-changer for our students, many of whom simply are not thinking about Fresno State as their gold soon enough,” Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said in a FSU press release. “This partnership is great for our families and great for our region.”

In the press release, Dr. Kent Willis, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said this collaboration doesn’t just benefit individual students as well as support their families, but “it also strengthens the educational pipeline in our region and cultivates a brighter future for all.”


The program has requirements based on grade level. Ninth grade students who are eligible sign a guaranteed admissions agreement with the university. These students enroll in required college preparatory courses. Parents or guardians agree to join the parent community. FSU provides the student with an FSU student ID, a college email address and access to the university library.

Students who join the program in 10th grade – or ninth graders continuing into the 10th grade – continue the college prep coursework. At some point, students take a tour of the FSU campus. They also receive career and academic major counseling and may participate in FSU summer programs. FSU works with parents or guardians on financial aid information.

Eleventh graders continue with college prep coursework. FSU meets with students and their parents or guardians to work on pre-admission qualification. At this stage in the program, parents or guardians may participate in Cal State Apply workshops.

Senior students – 12th graders – complete their college prep coursework. Provided they have maintained their academic eligibility, these students may now qualify for on-the-spot admission to FSU. The university provides financial aid estimates and scholarship information. Students who have adhered to program regulations and who have maintained the requisite academic standards will attend FSU in the fall semester.


In an article published on the education website EdSource, Phong Yang, who is the interim associate vice president for strategic enrollment at FSU, said, “I believe Bulldog Bound is going to prepare (students) not just for the requirements of getting into college but (also) into careers.”

“The vision behind Bulldog Bound is that every student gets the same treatment, no matter where you go, no matter where you come from,” Yang added. “You’re going to have the same opportunity.”

In an email to the Times, Yang said there is no cap on the number of students who can apply to the program. He added that some students may change their mind about remaining in the program.

“We understand that not everyone will stay in Bulldog Bound for various reasons. We want to empower and inform students early on so that they can make the best decision for themselves,” said Yang.

Yang said it is too soon to know how many students have signed up for the program. He said he expects that come November, the program will have an accurate headcount.

Darren Fraser