California Community Colleges ‘will have a difficult time’ meeting transfer goals without big changes

May 23, 2023

Quad area located in front of the library of Los Angeles City College.

Without significant changes to the transfer process, California’s community college system will struggle to meet its own goals for transferring students to the state’s public universities, the system’s interim chancellor said Monday.

Interim Chancellor Daisy Gonzales told the system’s board of governors that in 2022, the number of California community college students earning an associate degree for transfer declined by about 4,600 students.

That may be partly because of a drop in enrollment at the community colleges since the onset of the pandemic. But the system is far short of its goal, set in 2017, to increase the number of students transferring to the University of California and California State University by 35% over five years. Transfers have only increased by about 14% since then.

“The concern here is this: In the absence of a new transfer destination for our students, additional capacity at UC and CSU and failure to automatically accept the ADTs that our students are earning, this board will have a difficult time achieving this goal,” Gonzales said during a presentation to the board.

California’s Associate Degree for Transfer program was created in 2010 and allows students to get a guaranteed spot somewhere at CSU if they finish an associate degree at a community college and meet CSU’s minimum eligibility requirements. And although the number of students transferring to CSU has increased since the implementation of the ADT, there are a number of CSU campuses where it remains difficult for students to transfer. Even though students are guaranteed a spot at CSU if they complete an ADT, they don’t necessarily get admitted to the campus of their choice.

UC, meanwhile, does not participate in the ADT program. Lawmakers, however, are trying to change that. Assembly Bill 1749, introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and would require UC to participate in the ADT program by the 2025-26 academic year. Students earning an ADT would need at least a 3.0 grade point average to earn a spot at UC.

The chancellor’s office for the community college system has formally endorsed that legislation.

Proponents of the bill say it’s needed particularly because, without consistency between CSU and UC, students interested in transferring to both systems are often required to take different courses for their major.

“It does provide students with a guarantee that’s too long been lacking, will reduce confusion for students wishing to transfer to both, and is very much aligned with our priorities around developing and implementing a student-centered transfer ecosystem with a consistent and guaranteed transfer pathway,” David O’Brien, vice chancellor for government relations for the chancellor’s office, said during Monday’s board meeting.

AB 1749 will next head to the full Assembly floor for a vote.

In the meantime, Gonzales, the interim chancellor, said the community college system will continue working to improve the transfer process.

“We will continue to work with all of our partners to streamline transfer. But I will highlight here that without transforming all of those other structures, our students, even though they are meeting all the requirements for transfer, still don’t have access to a clear and fair opportunity to transfer,” she added.

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