Ever since National College Decision Day on May 1, high school seniors have been tooting their own horns, bragging about the colleges that have accepted them. Students who were admitted into universities like UCLA, UC Berkeley, or any of the other prestigious undergraduate schools in California are often celebrated, but there is a large portion of high school students left out of the limelight.
This is the case mostly because of these students’ plans to take a wiser, and more economical route to higher education, which means transferring after two years of community college into the UC or CSU school systems. Yes, there is not much to brag about when you are going to El Camino or Santa Monica Community College, because after all, it is not Stanford, but what matters is the end result.
No matter where you go for higher education, the first two years of college that lead up to attaining an Associate’s Degree are filled with classes that satisfy the General Education (GE) requirement, which is mandatory for every college student. The fact of the matter is that whether students choose to go to a community college or even the prestigious University of Southern California for these GE requirements, the certification and degree are one and the same. The ranking of colleges have no effect on the caliber of an Associate’s Degree, hence, it does not matter where students go for the first two years of college in order to satisfy GE requirements.
The most attractive aspect of going to community college for the first two years of post-high school education is the affordability. Community colleges charge $1,000 to $1,500 per year, proving to be vastly affordable in comparison to the $12,000 to $15,000 that UC and CSU schools charge.
Given that the accreditation for the first two years of college is the same no matter where you go, many high school seniors look to save at least $20,000 worth of tuition costs by choosing to attend a community college and wait for two years to apply to the dream university of their choice. This is what is known as the Two-Year Transfer program that community colleges like El Camino, Santa Monica and Cerritos offer.
This option not only saves students a large amount of money because according to LA Times higher education reporter, Teresa Watanabe, now is the best time to take advantage of this transfer opportunity.
Watanabe said, “Several community colleges are experiencing enrollment declines, since the recovering economy and robust job growth have lured more people back into the workforce. So, it is probably easier to get [community college] classes now than [before] during the recession, when the lack of jobs prompted many people to go back to school and community colleges got really crowded. It is a good time to be a community college student looking at the two-year transfer option.”
Furthermore, small rumors make high school students skeptical of this two-year transfer option, like the concept that the prioritization of these two-year transfer students is either declining or nonexistent. On the contrary, Watanabe instead pointed out how because of the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education, the UC and CSU school systems give further priority to college student transfers and accept one two-year transfer student for every two freshman applicants admitted.
Even more compelling was how Watanabe mentioned that, “In 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano convened a work group to review the transfer issue. In 2015 UC unveiled a ‘transfer pathways program’ which now offers an academic roadmap for courses to take at community colleges in 21 majors that allows for a seamless transition to UC.”
As a sophomore in community college looking to apply into the UC or CSU school systems, students do not have to over-hydrate their bodies with caffeine and study for AP, SAT, or ACT tests so that they can send in their scores to universities. Universities only see if transfer students meet a GPA and college credit requirement.
This option seems almost too good to be true because not only do universities put transfer applicants under much less scrutiny when compared to freshman applicants, at the end of college, transfer students will have less debt and tuition to pay off, if any. Transfer students will also be able to get gradual rolling start to college life and college courses.