While registering for classes this semester, students were greeted with the smiling faces of their peers on the cover of the fall 2004 class schedule. Sarah Bumstead, for example, shared her reasons for deciding to attend Glendale College, one being its strong transfer record.
Yet, the record itself is a matter of perspective. The answer varies depending on who one asks.
Edward Karpp, GCC director of institutional research, said, “There isn’t an official number that anyone likes to agree on because of the students who complete a degree program and do not intend to transfer.”
“Another factor is the number of students who stop pursuing their goals in higher education because they have other life responsibilities to attend to,” said Kevin Meza, a counselor at the transfer center. Thus, saying that they failed to transfer would not be an accurate assessment. “For our size, however, we have a good number of students transferring,” said Meza.
Last year, more than 784 Glendale College students made it to a four-year college or university, the California Postsecondary Education Commission reports: 216 to a University of California campus and 568 to a Cal State University.
The schools that accepted the most students were UCLA, Cal State L.A. and Cal State Northridge. USC, a private institution, opened its doors to 44 new freshmen from Glendale College.
GCC projected that 2,160 more students would be ready to transfer this year, according to estimates submitted to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office in December of 2002.
These numbers, however, may now be overambitious compared to the multitude of problems that have arisen since that time in higher education.
One such problem is the limited room at the University of California and Cal State University as a result of state budget cuts.
Last winter, the UC could not find enough room for 1,600 community college applicants, while many CSU schools could not accept any applications whatsoever for the spring term, the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy reports.
Nonetheless, the UC system has maintained decent transfer numbers over the years.
Nearly eight out of 10 community college students are accepted to a campus within the system, according to the UC Web site.
Students already attending these institutions also play a part in this dilemma.
The Cal State system itself reports that only 30 percent of their full-time students graduate in the conventional four years, 66 percent in another two years and the remaining one-third still have not graduated after six years. Since current students cannot be kicked out, administrators have no other option but to limit enrollment until they can finish.
Furthermore, within the next six years, 700,000 more high school graduates (due to expected population growth) will try to squeeze into these continually narrowing gaps. Whenever a college receives more applications than it can accommodate, competition gets tough. Consequently, so will admission standards.
Jaime Hernandez, a mech-anical engineering major at GCC, plans to transfer to Cal State L.A. next fall with a 2.8 grade point average and boasts a considerable amount of job experiencein his field. While the minimum grade point average is 2.0 system-wide, “impacted rograms” (those with more ap-plications than available spots), will require a 2.5 GPA and some additional requirements yet to be determined. The same goes for UCs. Murray Stach, an academic counselor at GCC,
said that mechanical engineering is currently a very competitive major without the added pressure. Therefore, Hernandez and students like him may have to improve their transcripts before applying to an impacted institute.
Hernandez, in his third year at the college follows a continuing trend of students who take longer to transfer than the traditional two-year period for various reasons.
Jassi Atashian has been at Glendale College for four years pursuing a career in animation but has had to balance her time in class with a job to help support her family. “I have to work … we’re behind on our bills right now. I can’t even afford to come here anymore. The books cost more than the classes do.” said Atashian.
For others, it is simply a matter of completing major requirements, Stach said, which can take a while considering that most students score low on English and math placement tests. This means that they have to take several prerequisites to reach college level courses, which can be transferred, in both math and English, in addition to the other general education requirements for the school they wish to transfer to. Completing transferable coursework at the community college level, however, can save a lot of time and money. UC reports that many of their transfer students graduate in two years since they complete their general education classes prior to admission.
It sounds discouraging, of course, but the next wrung on the educational ladder is not out of reach. In fact, it starts on the second floor of the San Rafael building in a cubicle called the Transfer Center. “If students work collaboratively with me, I’ll expose them to opportunities based on their interests and the kind of grades they can get,” said Meza. “They can then go home with the information and do some research of their own as well. It’s a process. If they can get me a 2.0, I can get them into a school.”
The center also offers workshops on filling out undergraduate applications and can set up one-on-one meetings with officials from several campuses.
Diane Sarkisyan, Associated Students senator of campus relations, recommends getting involved in different organizations like the Organization of Latinos for Higher Education, which often hosts transfer seminars. Sarkisyan also recommends the Scholars Program, a challenging honors curriculum that guarantees priority admission to such schools as UCLA, UC Irvine and Pepperdine University. “The most important thing is knowing the right classes to take by seeing a counselor and taking advantage of the services they offer,” said Sarkisyan.
A good resource for students to use to determine which courses each university requires for transfer is the Assist Web site at is www.assist.org. This site matches course agreements between Glendale College and most public universities in California. The classes consist of lower division work toward a specific major and also general education.
Additionally, students are advised to keep checking standards for admission, which are subject to change. “Be open to opportunities and consider the transfer process to be like a class, learn all you can about the subject,” said Meza.