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Students offer perspective after ranking hails UCLA as top transfer destination

UCLA was named the No. 1 destination for transfer students by Money, a finance magazine. Transfer students, which make up roughly a third of UCLA’s undergraduate population, have access to resources including the transfer center and Tau Sigma Honor Society. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

By Kaylan Kha

Jan. 10, 2019 1:10 am

Members of the transfer community reflected on what makes the UCLA transfer program effective after the university was named the number one destination for transfers in the country.

Money, a finance magazine, ranked UCLA as the number one college for transfer students in December. Money based their rankings on factors such as credit completion and graduation rates.

Roughly a third of UCLA’s undergraduate population are transfer students. The university offers many specialized programs to help students adapt to life at UCLA, including the transfer center, Bruin Resource Center, Tau Sigma Honor Society and the Engineering Transfer Center.

Krystal Arenas, the Tau Sigma Honor Society president and a fourth-year gender studies student, said she found her niche on campus within Tau Sigma, which made the transition from a community college to a university easier.

Alfred Herrera, the director of the Center for Community College Partnerships and assistant vice provost for academic partnerships, said he thinks that the reason why UCLA is welcoming to transfers is due to its “transfer-receptive culture,” which refers to the concept that four-year universities are also responsible for making sure students successfully transfer from community colleges.

“We work through a critical-race-theory lens to provide a social justice grounding to help students understand why they need to be at a (University of California) campus, and how to get there,” Herrera said.

The Center for Community College Partnerships, which is under the Academic Advancement Program at UCLA, aims to prime community college students to become competitive applicants for University of California schools, Herrera said. Peer mentors guide students throughout the academic year and help with planning their coursework. Through CCCP, students are given the opportunity to attend a summer program at UCLA, meet students and faculty and talk to admissions advisors.

Jessica Kim, Undergraduate Students Association Council transfer student representative, said she thinks while administrators tend to focus on graduation rates to determine the success of transfer students, the transfer-focused organizations on campus are what really distinguish UCLA’s transfer program from others.

“I really think what makes the experience so different compared to other UCs is that (we are) focusing on the academics (and) student needs outside of academics,” Kim said.

Kim added she believes the transfer community is so strong because its students are resilient. She said not all transfers had a guaranteed path to higher education.

“A lot of transfer students weren’t necessarily the students that were told from high school or even from middle school that they were on the right path,” Kim said. “There are a ton of transfer students that were told, ‘You’re never going to make it somewhere like here.’”

Kim said she is happy that UCLA is so highly ranked, but added that now the transfer program must work on refining its services. She said she thinks many of the transfer-focused organizations offer similar resources, and that they should aim to provide more specialized support.

Hovsep Khachatryan, a fourth-year sociology student, said he likes how resources on campus like the transfer center and the career center help provide transfer students with support regarding campus life and academics.

“I think transfer students come in with a lot of questions and UCLA does a great job of answering those questions and helping with the tradition,” Khachatryan said.

Kim said she thinks the ranking is nice, but there is still work left to do for transfer students.

“It’s great, we’re so happy,” Kim said. “But we don’t want admin or faculty or even students to believe or feel like we can stop pushing.”

Contributing reports from Shelby Dunagan and Melissa Morris.

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