Traveling to Central and Northern California and visiting four universities in April was topped by sightseeing in San Francisco and a chance to meet many new people.
I was one of 52 GCC students who participated in the free trip organized by Transfer Center counselor Kevin Meza, who coordinates the trips to expose students to the many opportunities open to them in our state university system.
“I started this program five years ago and so far it has been more successful each year,” said Meza.
“There has been an increase of transfer students applying and more getting accepted to these UC’s since this program started,” added Meza.
This trip is offered in the spring semester and students submit applications with personal statements to be selected to participate statement with their application.
The program was funded by the Partnership for Education grant the first two years, but since then “the school has helped fund all of the money needed for the last few trips, and I hope that we can continue this for future ones,” said Meza.
The trip kicked off at 6:30 a.m. on April 16, heading to UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Berkeley and UC Davis.
“The most popular schools to visit are Santa Barbara, Berkeley and Davis,” said Meza. “I pick the fourth school to be different each year,” added Meza.
For those students who would wish to transfer to a non-commuter school, Santa Barbara is the way to go. With more than 80 percent of the students living in dorms or in the nearby community, the seven-mile bike path around the school (with bikes having the right of way instead of pedestrians) makes it a student-oriented environment. There are scarcely any old folks telling them to quiet down.
“I really want to transfer here [to Santa Barbara] because it’s a big campus and it is right by the beach,” said 19-year-old GCC student Cindy Moscoso.
Santa Barbara also has a guaranteed admission for GCC transfer students as long as they follow the basic UC requirements.
“We admit 70 to 75 percent of all transfer students and your chances are excellent to transfer here with the minimum course requirements,” said tour guide John Velasco.
I really enjoyed the beach weather and the awesome Mexican food from Freebirds, a restaurant next door to campus that serves 11-inch burritos.
For those majoring in engineering, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo may be the school of your dreams. Also known as “Cal Poly,” it is located less than two hours north of UC Santa Barbara.
“Our school is considered to be the safest CSU in the nation,” said tour guide Sarah Shackelfold. “Our biggest problem here is bike theft,” added tour guide Jenn Roosendal. But if you think GCC school parking permits are painful to pay, Cal Poly’s parking permits cost about $500 per year, excluding summer. The unique thing about Cal Poly is the hands-on training students receive.
“All of the hands-on experience you get in our classes prepare the students for their future jobs and careers,” said Associate of Relations, Walter Hamson. “Companies love to hire our students because they know how much experience they already have,” added Hamson.
Berkeley was my favorite school of all. Considered the number one university in the nation, it is one place transfer-minded students should not miss. Miguel Fernandez, Berkeley’s transfer coordinator, invited us to chat with him and with former GCC transfer students.
“I really think that your personal statement is very important for your admission decision because if you really work on it, people will be able to read it and tell whether or not you wrote it last night or if you worked on it for weeks,” said Fernandez.
“Remember, don’t be cocky, be confident,” said Fernandez.
Former GCC student Ziza Delgado said “major in something you love to do, not what makes the most money, you will end up very unhappy and stressed out.”
“I love the campus diversity, the old buildings and all the nearby shops,” said 22-year-old GCC student Julie Hernandez.
Berkeley’s location may suit many GCC students since it has such a city-like environment and the dorms are located only outside of campus.
The tour made a stop at San Francisco, where we visited the Golden Gate Bridge and had dinner at the famous Pier 39. Resembling Universal City Walk here in Los Angeles, Pier 39 has fine seafood dining, along with ice cream, wine and souvenir shops. San Francisco was the highlight of the trip for many of us. After all it was our spring break so we did enjoy some time to wonder off with new friends and explore the city.
On our last day we made a stop in UC Davis, about a 15 minute drive from our state capital, Sacramento. Offering over 100 different majors, I think that UC Davis is great for undecided transfer students.
With over 30,000 students this campus is tough to walk from one side to the other. At the entrance there are several cows and horses and red double decker buses that have been transporting students for free for the past 30 years.
“Although we are a big school, you [are not] going to be shaking hands with all 30,000 students,” said Anthony Pineda, a student who is currently triple majoring at Davis. “For example, if you are an engineering major you’ll be clustered within four to five buildings, so you will be able to make a close connection with new friends.”
Davis also has a special contract available for those who are currently freshmen in a community college in California. If you are on the right track with courses and units, your counselor must sign the contract stating that you will complete all requirements by the end of your sophomore year and you will be guaranteed a spot for the fall.
At Davis, you can learn how to make wine or take bowling as a physical education class. Also with a small lake located on the side of the campus with ducks swimming freely, Davis is a nature-lover’s dream campus.
I think that networking is one key to success and after sharing a two-bedroom suite with five other strangers for two nights, you start a new little family. Whether some enjoyed each others company or not, I learned a lot about my roommates future transfer goals and we all got along as if we were old friends. It helps me to know that there are students just like me with the same goals here at GCC.
“Its cool to see the students from the trip come back to GCC with their Santa Barbara T-shirts or with their Berkeley sweaters because other students will begin to ask what those schools are all about,” said Meza.
“I think the trip helps our students spread the word to their friends and classmates about the big opportunities that are available to all transfer students.”
Meza may reached at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5820 or at his office in SR 214 for more information.