No way of transferring the problem

Yes, it is that time again. It is a new semester with new classes, new students and the start of a new college application season.

The next five months will be filled with applications, seminars, meetings and the final decision as to where exactly you hope to apply. 

Historically, Santa Monica College is one of the strongest transfer community colleges in the state, but depending upon how much initiative you take, the ease in transferring from SMC to whichever school you desire changes fairly drastically. 

Think back to your first visit to the Welcome Center. Depending on your luck, the average wait time was anywhere between five and thirty-five minutes. The walls were plastered with college flags and you had a glimmer of hope that you could transfer to one of those schools in a relative time.

Rosilynn Tilley, a counselor at the Welcome Center, said that "students are very open with the counselors and are a blank slate ready to be written on." However, Tilley finds that most students don't transfer in the two years that they hoped for due to the English and math classes they test into.

"When you explain to students that [placing into classes is important], that glimmer of hope changes," said Tilley. "But this is a learning experience."

The seamless way to transfer begins with students who are honest about their goals and know where they want to transfer.

After a visit with the counseling staff, first year student Lauren Dunn, 18, said, "I feel like I now know where I am headed [in terms of transferring] and what I am reaching for."

The number of sources provided to students are countless via the Transfer Center on campus or the Transfer Center's website. Take a student who knows they want to transfer to the University of California, Los Angeles. By simply selecting a few icons, they are directed to all the information necessary for being eligible to apply.

However, Dunn, like many other students found the website to be a little unclear when compared to her sessions with the counseling staff.

The difficult and not so seamless part to the entire transfer process would be getting the chance to meet with a counselor and getting the classes you need to fulfill your general education requirements.

While the wait is long to meet with the counselors, "The wait is worth the long term prize," second year Ramona Pedoeim, 19, said. "Meeting with my counselor regularly has set me up to really understand and know how to transfer in a timely matter."

Though the counseling situation may be difficult, for those who attempted crashing classes this year they found more rejection than usual prior to even stepping through the class doors. 

Walking down the hallway, flyers were posted on many doors stating that the class is full and the professor did not intend to add anyone. For students without priority enrollment, finding your ideal schedule is near impossible. Although enrollment is down this semester, the number of classes cut was increased. 

Despite such dreary chances of getting the classes needed to transfer, the person who best guides you through this transfer process is none other than your counselor. Unsuccessful transfers are often blamed on the counseling staff, but this can be misplaced anger. Counseling staff should supplement the work that has originally been started by your self. 

Researching your desired schools and majors allows you to better understand what exactly your school wants in their students. Setting appointments with your desired colleges as well as visiting the campus will put you in an advantage. 

"We tell them to check back with us and go visit career centers and schools to help adjust to the college experience," said Tilley.

Organizations such as ASSIST provide students with a unit-by-unit breakdown of classes that transfer from SMC to the school of your choice. Following a plan like the IGETC or one of the private school plans, will get you to take the right classes and keep you on track to transferring as soon as possible. 

Keeping your questions to yourself only worsens the situation. Counselors encourage you to ask them about situations you are confused about as well as help deciding what is the next step. 

Transferring is not a smooth process as noted by many students who have attempted to transfer before, but the Transfer Center reports approximately 3,000 students transfer per year proving that it is an attainable goal.