'Tis the Season to Transfer

  Santa Monica College transfers 1,097 students to the University of California (UC) system, an all-time record high, for the 2015-2016 year. SMC has a 26-year track record of the highest number of transfers to the UC system among California community colleges. Graphic By Edward Lee

Santa Monica College transfers 1,097 students to the University of California (UC) system, an all-time record high, for the 2015-2016 year. SMC has a 26-year track record of the highest number of transfers to the UC system among California community colleges. Graphic By Edward Lee

Students walking into classroom 151 of the Humanities and Social Science building on Santa Monica College's main campus are met by a desk with four stacks of paper for each of them to choose from. Each stack contains forms providing information on the requirements for transferring to a four-year California State University and how to apply to one.

As students take their seats, Osbaldo Nieves, an SMC counselor, presents a PowerPoint that guides them through the application process. The 11:15 AM workshop is one of the frequent transfer workshops the Transfer Center holds for students throughout the Fall semester.

Nieves stresses that for many, applying to colleges is a confusing experience. "A lot of students, like myself, are first-generation college students and first in their families to even apply to college," Nieves says, "So it's important to know the footsteps to what information they have to indicate on the application."

Students who attend these college application workshops can expect step-by-step instructions on how to apply to their university of choice. Even though some students can do well off applying on their own to four-year universities, Nieves says that attending a university application workshop is especially helpful for first-generation college students who are unaware of what the requirements are to apply.

After seeking guidance from one of her counselors, SMC student Jackie Hernandez remembers being advised to attend a workshop in order to begin her transfer application process. Hernandez says, "It clears up questions because when you're on your own, you can do it, but then you might get something wrong or you feel like you might get something wrong. When you come here, he [Nieves] just states it out person-to-person, it's better."

Some attendees, like sociology student Zuly Vasquez, is one of the first generation students that Nieves aimed at helping. Vasquez says she attended the workshop in order to get help transferring to Cal State Long Beach for Fall 2018.

"I'm the first one to transfer to college so I have no one to help me. There's a lot of people who are first generation [college students] that don't know where to go and all that, so it's really helpful," she said. Vasquez now feels "mega" ready to transfer.

If students are unable to fit their schedule to attend these workshops, Transfer Faculty Leader Janet Robinson says they can visit the Counseling Complex at any time to speak to a counselor. Robinson pointed out that transfer counselors at SMC share the same passion in helping students with the transfer process.

"Transfer begins on day one at Santa Monica," Robinson says. She helps guide students even before the semester starts. At this year's VIP Welcome Day, which took place three days before the beginning of the fall semester, Robinson hosts two transfer workshops for incoming freshmen.

Counselors also provide students with information on the types of important documents they must have on hand while applying, which include their Social Security number, unofficial transcript(s) from all colleges attended, household income, and citizenship status.

Students who will be done with their required coursework by Spring 2018 can start applying this semester to enroll into schools for the Fall 2018 semester. For Cal State Universities (CSU), the application fee is $55 per university, while the fee is $70 per school when applying for schools in the University of California system (UC). For students who might be unable to afford paying for their applications, they may be able to qualify for fee waivers depending on their financial status. If students are eligible for fee waivers, they can have application fees waived for up to four CSU and UCs.

The SMC Transfer Center aims to help students take the next steps towards their educational careers after completing their required coursework. Not only are CSU application workshops available to students, but UC and private university application workshops are as well. College fairs are also hosted by the transfer center to provide more information on the various universities they can apply to.

According to the University of California Information Center, SMC continues to be the number one transfer school for the 26th consecutive year. 

Being honest, meeting with counselors and taking the required courses for their educational goals are some ways for students to prepare for transferring. The application for CSUs is open from Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 2017, and Nov. 1-30, 2017, for UCs. The Transfer Center will be hosting a variety of workshops up until the end of November to assist students who are ready to transfer. Students can also set up an appointment with any counselor at the counseling complex over the phone by calling (310) 434-4210 or walk-in for express counseling.