Wednesday, November 20

Budget cuts make it hard for students to transfer


With fewer classes, community college students having a tough time obtaining necessary credits

Eboni Haynes had no problem transferring to UCLA in 2008 after two years of attending Los Angeles Valley College.

Haynes took all of the required classes in two years because she took summer session and the interim winter session.

But if she were starting community college this year, she said, she would probably have to stay an additional year.

At many California community colleges such as Los Angeles Valley College, budget cuts have trimmed away at special sessions that previously allowed students to graduate on time.

With a decreasing number of class offerings and increasing enrollment rates, community college students are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the credits needed to transfer to four-year universities like UCLA.

“I’m lucky I transferred before the economic downfall,” Haynes said.

Because of the increase in unemployment in the United States, many adults in their mid-20 and 30s who are unemployed are going back to school, said Dan Nannini, Transfer Center coordinator at Santa Monica College.

With 2009 as the largest high school graduating class in recent years, and reductions in enrollment at UCs and California State Universities, California community colleges are receiving unprecedented numbers of applications, Nannini said.

However, at Santa Monica College, which has the highest transfer rates to UCLA in the state, the number of classes decreased by 4 to 5 percent, Nannini said.

At Los Angeles City College, departments have dealt with cuts of 26 percent, which has led to the dismissal of adjunct professors and decreased the number of class offerings, said Cheryl Armstrong-Turner, director of the University Transfer Center at Los Angeles City College.

“This is the first year that we have had such a drastic cut,” Armstrong-Turner said.

The University of California is doing its part to help transfer students, said Ricardo Vazquez, spokesman for the UC Office of the President.

“The regents felt students needed a cost-effective option (for attending college),” Vazquez said.

This year, an increase of 500 transfer students across UC campuses is expected, he added.

It’s an attempt to balance the decreased number of first-year students.

But obtaining the classes needed to transfer is still a major problem.

When applying to transfer to UCs in November, students must indicate which classes they intend to take in the spring semester. Problems may arise if these classes are canceled, Nannini said.

Haynes, now a peer mentor for the Center for Community College Partnerships, which helps community college students apply to four-year universities, advises students to fulfill minimum requirements before they apply in November to prevent this problem.

These requirements include a core of seven General Education requirements as well as pre-major classes, a minimum 2.4 grade point average, and 60 transferable units, she said.

If a student cannot take a course they indicated on their application, the problem is judged on a case by case basis, said Nina Robinson, director of policy and external affairs for UCOP.

“Depending on the campus, the major and the course, this may or may not affect admission,” she said.

The UC encourages students to let the university know about the problem as soon as possible so an alternative solution can be found, such as taking the class at a nearby campus, Robinson said.

Megan Claire, who transferred to UCLA this year, did just that by fulfilling a history requirement not offered at her community college at a nearby college.

This class was the only one in which she had difficulty enrolling, but she said that she thinks enrolling in classes has become tougher.

Haynes said she advises students to be as proactive as possible in obtaining their classes.

“I try to encourage people by telling them that even though this is such a tenuous situation, once you get in, it’s all worth it,” she said.

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