Southwestern College began offering classes to 1,657 students in 1961, with temporary quarters in Chula Vista High School. More than a half-million students have since attended.
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 expanded its locations by establishing the Higher Education Center at National City in 1998 and the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa in 2007.
Southwestern College also provides off-campus classes at several extension sites throughout the district and operates the Crown Cove Aquatic Center in Coronado in conjunction with the California Department of Boating and Waterways.
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.