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Pierce College staff, alumnus discuss high transfer acceptance rate to UCLA

Royce Hall is pictured. 44% of transfer applicants from Pierce College were accepted to UCLA in 2023. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Gabriella Sonnhalter

June 8, 2024 11:33 a.m.

Forty-four percent of transfer student applicants from Los Angeles Pierce College were accepted to UCLA in 2023.

Pierce College, located in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, is one of nine colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District. Over 200 Pierce College students were admitted to UCLA’s class of 2025 out of the 530 who applied – the 9th highest out of the 114 community colleges that had students transfer to the UC, according to UCLA’s Transfer Admission page.

Helen Morales, a fourth-year political science student who transferred from Pierce, said the college’s faculty and staff played a crucial role in preparing her and other Pierce students to apply to and attend UCLA. She added that she appreciated the rigor of the classes, specifically within the Honors Program.

“My counselor in the Honors (Transfer) Program actually went to Stanford,” Morales said. “She was able to give me a lot of insight on the application and what it was like to go to grad school.”

Morales added that staff and faculty at Pierce – some of whom she is still in contact with – took the time to sit down and help, assisting her in a smooth transition between schools. Currently, they are helping her with her resume and application for grad school.

Pierce trains all of their counselors to understand the transfer process, ensuring staff members – regardless of their title – are equipped with the knowledge to guide their students in the transfer process, said Sunday Salter, the college’s transfer center director.

With the help of the Pierce’s Center for Community College Partnerships Program and Honors Program, Pierce has been able to help students reach their full potential, she added.

“We try really hard to advise students on all of their options and help them see the many boxes they might fit in,” she said. “That’s our campuswide culture.”

Salter has been instrumental to Pierce’s high transfer acceptance rate to UCLA, added Judy Lam, the director of Pierce College’s Career Center.

Salter said the Honors Transfer Program at Pierce – which provides students with university-level coursework and research opportunities – is crucial in ensuring that students are well-equipped for the transfer process and helps to set participating Pierce students apart in the admissions process.

Students who complete the Honors Program have a higher priority process to UCLA and are considered for alternate majors if they’re applying to one of the college’s majors within Letters and Science, Salter said.

The Honors Program shows that students are capable of succeeding in more difficult courses, and that getting into a school like UCLA is possible – especially for those who might not have seen that for themselves coming to Pierce prior, Salter added.

Genice Sarcedo-Magruder, the school’s dean of student services, said Pierce also ensures a robust programming calendar for students, including alumni networking events. These programs help students build connections and interact with UCLA graduates who started their journey of higher education at Pierce, Sarcedo-Magruder said.

“Our students, they’re seeing former students who went from Pierce to UCLA,” she said. “Part of it is that, I would say, that mentoring, but it’s also that alumni connection.”

Sarcedo-Magruder added that students are able to ask alumni who transferred to UCLA questions about their journeys. Seeing other Pierce College alumni successfully transfer to UCLA instills a sense of confidence in students for their future in higher education, she added.

“The Pierce Honors Program thoroughly prepared me to excel in the UCLA curriculum as a whole by giving me a chance to look at how rigorous the coursework would be,” Morales said.

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Gabriella Sonnhalter
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