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Local News

New Law to Make It Easier to Transfer to Cal State Schools

Starting next fall, CSU will accept any community college student who meets eligibility requirements

Community college students could get a guaranteed transfer into a California State University with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing Wednesday of the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act.

Beginning in the fall of 2011, any student who meets the requirements of having an associate’s degree will get into CSU school and be given junior status.

While it doesn’t guarantee admission to a particular campus or major, it does require the CSU system to give priority to the student’s local CSU campus.

SBCC President Andreea Serban said the legislation is a big step forward for public education. Although it’s far from perfect, the law will help increase the visibility of how difficult transferring has become, she said. The master plan of California higher education in 1965 intended community colleges to be affordable with the understanding that students who complete requirements will be able to transfer.

“That hasn’t really happened in practical terms,” Serban said.

It takes 60 credits to transfer and 60 credits to get an associate’s degree, but they rarely match up. In fact, most SBCC students bent on transferring don’t even pursue one, but they’re encouraged since it helps with a resume in the event the student never completes a bachelor’s degree, Serban said.

Many students with the goal of transferring never do, partly because of the difficult process. Transfer requirements differ campus to campus even within the CSU system, not to mention the changes from public to private schools.

“Students early on had to think which campus they want to transfer to and work out a sequence of courses for that particular campus, without even knowing in the end if they’d be accepted and have a spot,” Serban said.

All CSU and University of California schools have lowered their enrollments in recent years because of budget cuts and started giving priority to transfer students at local community colleges — a policy that is extended in the new legislation.

“Something has to be done about the newly implemented approach to prioritizing local community colleges,” Serban said. “There’s a disproportionate negative impact when there’s no CSU in their proximity, as our students have other destinations in mind — very successfully so up to this point.”

The closest CSUs are Cal Poly — which is hugely affected for transfer students — and Channel Islands, but the most popular destinations are San Francisco State or San Diego State. Even with access into local CSUs, there is no guarantee of getting into one’s major of choice.

“If you want to transfer into business, on the other hand, which is an impacted major and you don’t make it, the guarantee of a transfer becomes less helpful,” Serban said.

SBCC’s Transfer Admission Guarantee program matches up students with participating universities already, including CSU Channel Islands, Northridge and San Francisco State, as well as UCSB and six other UC schools.

UCSB has honored its agreement even with the problem of lowered agreement, and it’s the most popular destination among UC transfer students. Like many universities, it now only accepts transfers for fall, instead of three times annually.

About 3,000 students transfer out of SBCC each year, with more than 1,000 students transferring to CSU and UC schools.

The state would reimburse universities if the legislation-related mandates result in a cost, according to the bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. A bill by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, would have the UC system develop its own transfer pathways.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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