The Real Story Behind Community College Transfers
Back in February, a parent at a workshop asked the question many wonder, “Are the community college courses rigorous enough to prepare my child for a UC?”
Before I had the chance to speak, a father spoke up, sharing that he graduated at UC Berkeley and, hands down, the community college where he started offered an excellent foundation. In fact, he felt the caliber of instruction at the community college was superior. The classes were smaller and the professors were passionate about their subject matter.
Over my years as a counselor, I’ve heard many students speak highly of their community college experience. They appreciated the opportunities provided as they continued their education at a variety of institutions, including UCLA.
Beyond the anecdotes supporting the community college path, I wanted to see the numbers and invested some time to delve into the data behind the success of transfers. I was surprised to learn that in the last five years, over 75,000 students who started at a community college earned a bachelor’s degree from a UC. Amazed at both the numbers and trends I found, I am highlighting some here for you so you can easily educate yourself about this option.
NOTE: Even if this pathway doesn’t pertain directly to your child, I recommend you read so you can appreciate why other students choose this path.
Transfers: The UC System is devoted to honoring the transfer system and the numbers support that commitment. I was surprised to learn that 33% of UC’s new enrollments are junior level transfers. Of those junior transfers, 90% come from California Community Colleges. In the words of UC President Janet Napolitano, “Our efforts to boost the number of applicants transferring from California’s community colleges are paying off.” https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/total-number-uc-applicants-tops-200000-12th-straight-year-record-high-numbers For example, in 2015, UC Berkeley offered admission to 2,665 transfer students. In 2016, that number rose by nearly 20% as they offered admission to 3,192 transfer students. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/infocenter/transfer-admissions-summary
Guaranteed Transfer Agreements: Guaranteed transfers are available for six different campuses – Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. The specifics of the agreement vary by campus and sometimes by program. For example, a student with a 3.3 is guaranteed a seat at UC Davis College of Engineering. http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/transfer/guarantee/index.html
Success Rate: An underlying question is whether transfer students can successfully graduate in the same timeline as a freshman enrollee. Thanks to the UC’s extensive data system, it’s clear that transfer students graduate at a rate comparable to first-year freshmen. http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/counselors/files/ETS17/opening-address.pdf
Cost of Community College: Community college has historically been a more economical path. However, right now, for high school graduates it can be FREE. Yes, FREE! Thanks to many initiatives and grants, students can attend a community college for free the first year out of high school. For example, students graduating from Los Gatos High School, Saratoga High School or Pioneer High School can attend West Valley Community College for free, including textbook vouchers and transportation support. Details available at http://www.westvalley.edu/community-grant/.
Transfers to Other Institutions: Transfer opportunities extend beyond just the California public system. For example, last year, 170 West Valley students transferred to a wide variety of private and out of state universities, such as Santa Clara University, University of Southern California, University of San Francisco, University of Oregon and University of Colorado – Boulder. http://datamart.cccco.edu/Outcomes/Student_Transfer_Volume.aspx