California Community Colleges: A Springboard for Transferring

Considering attending a community college before transferring to a four-year university or college? Nearly 11 million students each year attend a community college. Regardless of why you choose to attend a community college, with some careful planning, you can transfer to a university or college with a major that is right for your higher learning.

The University of California reported that approximately 30% of all the UC bachelor’s degrees were awarded to students who transferred from community colleges, you are not alone. Also, the UC will begin increasing the ratio of transfer students to native students from a 1:3 to a 1:2 ratio, thus increasing the number of transfer students that attend a UC.

The key to successful transfer to a four-year institution begins with early planning. This ensures that the classes that you take put you in the best academic light possible. The time that you take to plan your community college curriculum will pay off significantly in helping you gain acceptance into the college of your choice, along with transferring valuable credits.

Today, a California community college student can transfer in a variety of ways to a four-year Cal State, UC or a Private college or university. However, in addition to careful planning you must become aware of a few challenges caused by the confusion, at times, with articulation agreements between 2 year and 4 year colleges and universities, as well as impaction (particularly in the Cal State system whereby there are a larger number of applicants than spots; at several CSU campuses, all majors are impacted), supplemental transfer admissions applications, much higher gpa’s for some schools and majors and the varying ways one can transfer as you will see below:

A community college student can transfer without an Associate degree, an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT), a regular Associate degree or a Transfer Admissions Agreement (UC only).

Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT, Associate of Arts or Associate of Science):

The ADT is also called a 2 +2 degree in that a fulltime student can earn the degree in 2 years and be guaranteed that he or she will complete their bachelor’s degree in 2 years at a California State University. It also guarantees admissions to one’s local state college and 4 other un-impacted CSU’s (CSU Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills, Humboldt and Channel Islands. The ADT is also intended so all ADT lower division major coursework in 33 different ADT majors is accepted without question at any of the 23 Cal States. Note: The ADT also fulfills ones General Education Requirements

Regular Associates Degree (Associate of Arts, AA or Associate of Science AS,):

A student can take as long necessary to earn an AA or AS degree and yet there is no guarantee of admissions to any four college of university nor are the courses for a particular major always accepted for transfer. Unlike the Associate Degree for Transfer, what might qualify for transferable credit at one UC or CSU may not be accepted at another.

No Degree:

A student can transfer if she or he takes the necessary transferable courses and as many major pre-requisites that are articulated at their respective community college and an appropriate gpa.

Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) – University of California

Six UC campuses offer the Transfer Admissions Agreement for California Community Colleges. UC Merced, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz. Through TAG, you will receive early review of your academic records, early admissions notification and advice on meeting specific requirements, like gpa, major, and general education courses.

Keep in Mind:

· That each of the six UC’s have specific gpa and course requirements for their respective majors.

· TAG Applications are due September 30th and that you can apply to TAG to only one campus, to keep your options open, apply to other UC campuses during the regular admissions cycle (Nov. 1-30)


One should note that although minimum gpa’s are stated for admission to a CSU 2.0 or a UC 2.4, very few students, if any, are admitted with a minimum gpa. In fact, a gpa for an impacted major can change from year to year depending on the competition, making it impossible to know what gpa to aim for in the context of admissions. In the past few years, over 39,000 qualified students were turned away from California State Universities.

In Summary:

Navigating the transfer process can be confusing for both students and parents alike. Although there are websites, such as Assist.Org to help understand what is transferable and what is not through articulation agreements among the 114 community colleges, 9 UC campuses and 23 State Colleges, clarity is not always a strong suit of this and other websites.

Each year, articulation officers from all three systems negotiate these agreements and thus, they are always subject to change as well as open to interpretation.

You will benefit greatly from not only careful planning but gaining insight to the Transfer Admissions Process.

At College Choice, we can take the worry and confusion surrounding transferring to a four-year college or university OR earning a Vocational Certificate by developing an individual educational plan tailored to your needs and that will work for a successful transfer to a school of your choice.


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