The path leading from community college to University of California campuses got a little less complicated this week as the UC introduced the Transfer Pathways program, a framework to streamline and simply transfer requirements for all nine of its undergraduate campuses.
Transfer Pathways will outline a single set of of courses that will make clear which classes must be completed by community college students in order to be considered for admission to UC campuses.
Paul Feist, a spokesman with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office said the program creates a clearer roadmap that applies statewide, in contrast to the campus-by-campus requirements the system adhered to before yesterday’s announcement.
“It just clarifies what students need to do to apply for transfer for the UC. These transfer pathways actually use that [associate degrees for transfer] as a reference point,” Feist said. “In some cases the associate degrees for transfer are very closely aligned with what the UC is going to require statewide. In cases where it’s not the same, it tells a student what’s different.”
The associate degree for transfer is the roadmap used for students transferring to California State University, Long Beach campuses, but in most cases, did not meet all requirements needed to transfer to a UC. The change will affect 10 of the most popular majors on the UC campuses (anthropology, biochemistry, biology, cell biology, chemistry, economics, mathematics, molecular biology, physics and sociology) with 11 more majors expected to be announced later this year.
“This is a significant step for the University of California, one that will help us serve our students and the state,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a statement. “UC enrolls more community college transfer students than any university of its caliber in the nation. These pathways will provide essential guidance to those who are pursuing a UC education and need a clear plan for moving forward.”
In total, the 21 majors are expected to cover nearly two-thirds of all applicants from transfer students. According to the UC, transfers make up 30 percent of incoming undergraduates, with 90 percent of them coming from in-state community colleges.
The program is part of an overall initiative by the UC system to increase transfer enrollment and meet a ratio of one new transfer student for every two new freshmen. The goal of meeting such a ratio was outlined in Governor Jerry Brown’s budget, signed into effect earlier this year.
Feist said that currently, that ratio sits at about 29 to 30 percent, but even a modest increase to about 33 percent to satisfy the 2:1 ratio mandate would open more doors for students coming out of the California community college system.
“It’s an increase by a few percentage points, that’s obviously going to mean more opportunities for more community college students but it was kind of close to that anyway,” Feist said.
At its May 26 board meeting, the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees discussed the roadblocks that existed between its students and transferring to UC campuses. Between 2010 and 2014, the school produced an average of 880 CSU transfer-eligible students, but only 90 UC transfer-eligible students.
The figures ranked the college 15th and 56th respectively, in terms of producing CSU and UC transfer-eligible students, out of the state’s 112 community colleges.
Ideas as to why the school struggled with the number of CSU transfer-eligible students it produced, versus the number of those eligible to transfer to the UC, ranged from lack of a family history at the UC to the rigorous admissions process and the research-oriented classroom structure at the UC.
However, the administration stated it was hopeful that with the help of Superintendent-President Oakley’s position on the UC Board of Regents, outreach efforts to calm the nerves of students open to considering the UC system and the expected announcement of the Transfer Pathway program, it could improve upon those numbers.
Oakley said at the time that a similar model for the CSU associates degree for transfer was also in the works and that it was being accompanied by a push to have a guaranteed admission requirement for UC campuses. In a statement, he said he was pleased with the UC’s announcement and hopeful that it would translate to more LBCC students transferring to the UC.
“We’ve seen through the success of the Long Beach College Promise and the SB 1440 Transfer Associates Degree that institutions can work together to create clear pathways for our students to move from one system to the next,” Oakley said. “I’m delighted that this initiative will focus on assisting our community college students achieve their higher educational goals more efficiently. I’m confident that our LBCC students, many of whom are first-generation college students, will benefit greatly from the UC Transfer Pathways.”
How many students at the college who will potentially be affected was not immediately known, due to the novelty of the program. However, LBCC Associate Director of Public Relations and Marketing Stacey Toda said that over 100 students from the college apply to UC campuses annually. She said the announcement of the Transfer Pathways program won't necessarily change the directives of counselors at the school, but could cut down on classes taken at LBCC by students going down the UC transfer path.
"Our LBCC counselors have always encouraged our students to look at their options for transfer – be it UC, CSU and private universities," Toda said. "But this will help make transfer easier for students and counselors. Rather than taking multiple classes at LBCC to fulfill several UC requirements for a single major, the UC Transfer Pathways will help streamline the process for transfer."