University of California Aims to Raise Transfer Rates by 38 Percent

By Stephens, Angela | Black Issues in Higher Education, February 19, 1998 | Go to article overview

University of California Aims to Raise Transfer Rates by 38 Percent


Stephens, Angela, Black Issues in Higher Education


San Francisco -- This state, which boasts the nation's largest two-year college system and one of the best community college student transfer rates, thinks it can do even better.

California has been a leader in encouraging students to start their college careers at two-year schools and finish up at four-year ones, largely because of overcrowding at senior institutions.

But even though its transfer record has been the envy of other states, California relies largely on a complicated patchwork of individual pacts and agreements.

The state community college system office has been working for some time to streamline the system. Late last year, it began to see a return on its negotiating investment.

The University of California (UC) considered the state's top-tier system, in November agreed to try and increase community college transfers to 14,500 by 2005. That would represent a 38 percent jump over the number of transfers the college system accepted last year, statistics from the California community colleges state chancellor's office show.

"This agreement provides significantly increased access to the UC system for our students," says California Community Colleges Chancellor Thomas J. Nussbaum.

The Space Crunch

The university system already gives community college students top priority among all transfer applications -- ahead of transfers from other institutions, whether in-state, out-of-state, or international. Nearly 10,500 students transferred from California community colleges to the system's nine campuses last year, community college system statistics show.

But that's still far less than transferred to California State University (CSU), the state's secondary university system. More than 48,000 transferred to its twenty-two campuses last year.

An estimated 10,000 community college students transferred to private or out-of-state universities.

Not only are community college transfer students given high admission priority, but both UC and CSU have instituted a number of transfer guarantee programs to help students prepare.

Meanwhile, a movement to guarantee that the state's top high school students automatically get admitted into the two university system could leave less room for community college transfers.

State Sen. Teresa Hughes of Los Angeles wants the California constitution to specify be admitted to the university systems. Currently, state law says that all in-state applicants must be admitted to the UC system, the CSU system, or the community college system.

The proposed amendment would require that students who rank in the upper 12.5 percent of their graduating high school class be entitled to admission to the University of California. It also would mandate that the upper one-third of a high school graduating class be entitled to admission to the Cal State University system.

That legislation is pending.

The Early Years

More than a decade ago, UC-Davis pioneered a transfer agreement with a community college in response to student complaints.

The so-called transfer admission agreement with the Los Rios Community College District in 1996 lays out what coursework students need to transfer to the university. Students enter a contract with UC-Davis and upon completion of the courses with a minimum grade point average of 2.8 to 3.1, they are guaranteed admission to the major of their choice.

The pact applies even to crowded and competitive majors such as engineering and computer science. Only landscape architecture is exempted because it requires a student screening process.

"We're looking for students who are well-prepared in the lower division courses for their majors," says Bob Ferrando, associate director of undergraduate admissions at the Davis campus.

Since the initiation of the contracts the university has extended the program to fifty-five other community colleges -- more than half of the 107 two-year institutions in the state. …

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