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Transferring from California community colleges? It's a tough road, survey finds

Original post made on Jul 28, 2023

Making the transition from community college enrollment to the state's public universities is an ongoing challenge, with barriers and difficulties in the transfer process flagged as pervasive problems, according to surveys.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 27, 2023, 9:36 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2023 at 9:14 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

My husband and I each attended a community college (CSM and Foothill), and then transferred to a four-year school, he to Stanford and I to Whitman College. This was in the early 1960s. My brother attended Foothill and then transferred to UC Davis in 1972. We are sorry to hear that this option is more difficult now.

Posted by Ocam's Razor
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 28, 2023 at 12:05 pm

Ocam's Razor is a registered user.

The California community college system is a good one. It is very cheap, have nice facilities and if you rigidly adhere to the course curriculum of your intended UC transfer university, you can make this happen in two years. If you are already attending a UC, you can take community college online classes during the summer to make the school year have a lighter credit load.

I have seen local kids make the transition to their UC in two years. One must be aggressive in getting the right classes, using the advisor but verify everything yourself. Focus on your area of interest and take the math, science and business classes and stay away from the courses that mean little to a productive career.

The UC admissions staff should have a direct line to the community college advisors so that proper advice to students is the norm.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2023 at 7:44 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I went to Santa Monica City College - great experience with great staff - then on CSU. My brother went on to a private college. People with large families get the break here since the first two years of college are checking the boxes for basic requirements. I worked during school as did my brother. Some that went out of state to a 4 year did not get any of the basic requirement classes and spent a lot of money for nothing. SMCC had everything going for it - beautiful campus, dedicated staff, good connections with the university systems, sports, events. I do not know if the current systems are working as well - not sure if the schools in the north operate the same as the schools in the south. In the south schools they always assume that you are also working and work with the students to make sure they succeed. The south part of the state has a very diverse business base - not as single focused as the bay area. The big schools in the south are very nurturing and encourage the students to visit and participate.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2023 at 9:40 am

Silver Linings is a registered user.

“it's just really hard to get classes that you want at the time that you want them”

SO TRUE for countless UC students but an order of magnitude harder at community colleges, making it next to impossible to plan ahead. It’s not as simple as laying out what courses one needs or wants to take over a given period of time.

If a student relies on taking given courses, as prerequisites for others, they can be thrown completely off by a year or more when they try to register and courses are full with no alternative (very common) or the term arrives and a course is cancelled at the last minute. It’s not possible to register long in advance, and waitlisting is extremely stressful and doesn’t allow students to plan with certainty. Every quarter they may be on tenterhooks not knowing whether they can take what they need. This is so disruptive, it’s surely a major contributor to declining enrollment. It was the major barrier for us.

Part of this dynamic is exceedingly high minimum enrollment limits. Classes can be cancelled last minute if they don’t have 24 or even >30 students. When enrollments ebb and flow from quarter to quarter but students cannot count on classes they need being available at any given term or time of day, or commonly lose them right at the start of a term, and instructors can’t count on their own schedules or employment, this makes the whole enterprise extremely tenuous. (I’ve seen classes offered alternate years for students with day jobs v those who can only attend days.) The rules—and funding—related to class sizes and reliability of course offerings MUST be improved!

Because it can be so hard to get courses, students may affirm they are pursuing a degree or transfer in order to get registration priority, or they have no hope of getting classes at all.

Rules in recent years have made it harder for older students—the community—to use CC’s for professional development. Seniors whose enrollment could stabilize an offering get shut out.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2023 at 11:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The majority of students I interacted with at SMCC had already made their decisions concerning graduate school - medicine, dentistry, law. They all had to get a BA before going on to graduate school. They were already working with their goal college acceptances and interacting with the schools they intended to move on to. The first two years of college were very low cost given that they were going to be spending a lot of money to get to their ultimate school goals. Some were invited to cadaver learning experiences. Others field trips to important locations.

Many who wanted to graduate from San Luis Obispo went to a CC at that location. Others went to a CC next to UC Santa Barbara.

Neice who got accepted to all of her CA schools wanted to go to Colorado for an "out of state" experience. That means more money and no connections to get the classes she needed. She wants Sports Medicine. She is back in San Diego at the CC there and working the state and UC Schools where she will end up. Note that San Diego is now the preferred destination for many students. They have put in all of the student housing and trains and buses to move you around without a car.
More good results in SOCAL. Get out your sun glasses and get going.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2023 at 2:52 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

If you're university bound, you're better off going straight to a university for obvious reasons. You'll be surrounded by other students who take academics seriously and have a career in mind. With all due respect, most students at a JC college are just killing time.

Sure, you can save a little money by getting certain courses out of the way, but is the savings worth it? The run around process for the very small percentage of students who do want to transfer would be discouraging. There's no guarantee you'll get in.

If you have the GPA and the test scores (do those still count?) you'll get accepted at a university. Hopefully your university of choice.


Posted by Red Run
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2023 at 5:20 pm

Red Run is a registered user.

Well my kid just graduated from Foothill and he, along with many of his friends and fellow classmates, are transferring to UCs. He thought the courses were interesting and the math ones were challenging but since he studied hard and went to class, he did well in them. The professors also took teaching seriously and were encouraging and approachable. He got the impression that Foothill wants its students to succeed and really tries to help them transfer. He also appreciated the online and asynchronous classes the college offers, since he could easily schedule his work around them. Ditto counseling sessions with academic and transfer counselors. Those can also be over Zoom. He said that the keys to transferring to UC are to maintain good study habits, get to know your professors and attend office hours when necessary, see transfer counselors to double check on credits and courses, and get the general courses out of the way early, like in the 1st or 2nd quarter. Also one should complete the courses for their major before they apply or when they are applying for the following fall. Finally, choosing a major as early in CC as possible is also highly recommended. I think this could explain why so many students spend so much time floundering in CC. Going there with some idea of what you want to study is essential to transferring in 2-3 years because you need to declare a major on the UC application and get those courses in. You will be transferring in as a junior and the schools want to see how you handle college level courses in your major. My son and his friends are all very happy they attended Foothill because it is so much easier to transfer into a UC than it is to get in as a freshman from Paly or Gunn. My son got into every UC he applied to including the choice where his admittance was guaranteed. So I agree, "Go Bruins!" He will be a Bruin!

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