Monday, October 4, 2010
For community college students seeking to transfer to a four-year college, seemingly minor course requirements can become a major inconvenience.
"A lot of times a student had to re-track and retake courses they thought would transfer that would not transfer," says Rich Montori, a spokesman for Monterey Peninsula College, a community college.
In many cases, the requirements to earn an associate's degree differ from the requisites needed to transfer to a four-year school. State law makers say these mismatched requirements wasted time and money for both students and the state. Last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that will make it easier for community college students to transfer to Cal State University campuses.
"We have to make those four-year degrees easier to obtain and not by lowering the standards, but by terminating the bureaucratic roadblocks that are standing in our students' way," said Schwarzenegger in an Oct. 4 ceremony to sign the bill in front of a crowd of students and professors at Mission College in Sylmar.
The new law, known as the Student Transfer Reform Act, or S.B. 1440, would make the state's community colleges establish a standardized associate degree program for students intending to transfer. Students meeting the requisites would then be guaranteed admission to a CSU as a college junior. The new law would also put a cap on the number of units required by majors. Another related bill, AB 2302, calls on the UC system to streamline acceptances for transfer students.
The governor went on to say that by reducing repeated credits and wasted class time, the new law will save students and the state an estimated $150 million. Because of those savings, the community colleges will be able to serve 40,000 more students and the CSU system 14,000 more students, according to the governor. The new legislation could also help boost the number of community college students who make it on to a four-year institution. In the past, only a quarter of California community college students who intended to transfer did so.
MPC's Montori and California State University at Monterey Bay Provost Kathy Cruz-Uribe say they welcome the new legislation, which goes into effect next school year, but were still unsure of the details.
"It's kind of new, we dont know all the implications," Cruz-Uribe says.
Montori pointed out one detail that has yet to be worked out under the law: Community college students will have a priority spot at their local CSU if they fulfill the requirements to transfer. So a student at MPC will have priority to enter CSUMB--except CSUMB does not offer certain majors, like engineering.
Montori says it remains to be seen whether an MPC student trying to major in engineering would gain priority at another CSU campus. "The devil in this is in the details in terms of hammering out how this will work."