A degree with a guarantee

Transferring to a four-year institution from a California community college is a lot of students’ educational goal, and the introduction of a new guaranteed transfer program with California State Universities attempts to ease the transfer process for students. The California Community College System and the CSU introduced “A Degree With A Guarantee” website on Oct. 2 to inform students on the steps necessary for a guaranteed transfer to a CSU with a completed Associate of Arts or Associate of Science transfer degrees.

“For the first time in California history, community college students who complete a new AA-T or AS-T will be guaranteed admission to the CSU system,” according to the program’s website. “With this new degree, you have the opportunity to complete two degrees with only 120 units if you apply and are admitted into a similar degree program.”

The news of the new program is starting to circulate amongst some Santa Monica College students. “Students are beginning to get excited about this new program,” said SMC counselor Suzanne McDonald, who is seeing a rise of students visiting her regarding the program. “We are going to have a lot of students coming to us about this.”

Students with the transfer degrees will enter as standing juniors to any CSU campus, and with only 60 more units at a CSU will complete a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. Each CCC offers associate’s degrees of transfer but for majors offered at various CSU campuses.

SMC offers an associate’s degree for transfer in five majors for now, but more will be added later, barring more funding from the passage of Proposition 30. Students at SMC can get guaranteed transfer with completed associates degrees in Art History, Business Administration, Early Childhood Education, History, or Mathematics, according to the SMC’s transfer services website.

This new transfer program is part of legislation passed in 2010 to make the transfer process easier for community college students. According to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office press release, the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act requires community colleges and Cal States to work together on associate transfer degrees.

According to McDonald, “[some students are] lagging in getting through school. They aren’t getting a university degree in four years, but in eight or nine years.” This new transfer program was developed to help and motivate students to transfer sooner.

But if Prop 30 fails to pass in this upcoming election, the new program will face problems. “If Prop. 30 does not pass, it may be that we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” said McDonald. “If we don’t get funding, then students won’t get the classes they need to transfer on time, and the plan won’t be practical or desirable.” A shortage of classes and teachers will only limit the resources offered to students, disabling them from transferring on time.

“We need adequate funding so that students can get the classes they need and want,” said McDonald. If students can’t get the classes they need at SMC, then they will look to go to another school and complicate their transfer process, said McDonald.

The program’s website informs students of the three steps necessary for a guaranteed transfer. The first step is completing 60 semester units at a CCC for an AA-T or AS-T degree. The second step is getting accepted at a CSU where the completed associates degree transfers to a corresponding program at the school. The third step is completing the bachelor’s degree with 120 units from CCC and CSU coursework combined.

Not all CSUs offer the same majors or accept the same AA-T or AS-T degrees form CCCs, so students need to consider their options. “Community colleges offer more than 450 new associate degrees for transfer in 20 of the most popular transfer majors, and more are being added,” states the CCCCO press release. “These degrees provide pathways to more than 300 baccalaureate degrees across the California State University system.”

But students still need to go through the same application process in order to transfer. It’s important to know all the deadlines for applying for a transfer. The deadline to apply for transfer for Fall 2013 is Nov. 30, through the CSU Mentor system. During the application process, students will be able to identify themselves as AA-T or AS-T applicants for a guaranteed transfer.

Students should speak to their counselors about their major and what coursework they need in order to complete an AA-T or an AS-T degree for a guaranteed CSU transfer in the majors SMC offers.

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