A state senate bill that articulates a more defined transfer process between the California Community Colleges (CCC) and California State Universities (CSU) was passed by legislators on Aug. 25, and is awaiting final approval by the governor.
Senate Bill 1440, the Student Achievement Transfer Reform (STAR) Act, would create a more formal transfer program for students to follow as they begin their studies at community college.
Although the future program is not yet named, its intention is to streamline the transfer process.
Currently, CSU’s and UC’s have varying major-specific requirements, which can be troublesome for students applying to multiple universities for the same major. The bill establishes a transfer Associate of Arts Degree (AA), making students with 60 transferable units eligible at all CSU’s. Legislators and CSU officials contend that this would save millions of dollars through cutting down on unnecessary completed units, which, in turn, will allow students to graduate faster, and the CCC and CSU to serve thousands of additional students.
Linda Chu, 19, a second year pre-nursing student at Fresno State, said she’s heard about the problems community college students face with non-transferable units. That’s one of the reasons why people don’t like community colleges, she said.
“I have a friend who went to one [CCC] in L.A. and some of her summer classes didn’t transfer over,” said Chu.
According to the bill analysis from the California State Senate website, SB 1440 “ requires a California Community College district to grant an associate degree that deems the student eligible for transfer into the California State University.”
In conjunction, it requires the CSU to guarantee admission to transfer students who meet those requirements.
The bill also prohibits community colleges from imposing its own requirements on transfer students, which better integrates all the CCC’s under this new program.
“What students at community colleges don’t understand is that [an associate degree] varies at a community college,” said Vivian Franco, director of Admissions, Records, and Evaluations. “If you pick up a catalog you might see an AA in mechanics or aviation. It might be more mechanically orientated and it may not have a GE course in mathematics or in critical thinking, for example. They don’t necessarily lead to completion of admission to a CSU.”
They have an employment objective instead, not a CSU objective, said Franco.
All of the transfer patterns currently in place (IGETC, UC, and CSU) are all components of the transfer process.
“That is not effected at all by this legislation,” said Franco.
Although the bill suggests that the UC universities implement the new transfer program, the UC is not a state agency and can opt-out, unlike the CSU system.
The STAR Act is different from other bills, said Franco, in that it sends a clear message to the CCC’s that would directly affect their funding.
In the bill summary, it states that the community college district is mandated “to grant the associate degree for transfer in exchange for receipt of state apportionment funds.”
Although the bill states an effective date for the program, it won’t be implemented for the Fall 2011 semester as the legislation suggests, said Franco.
“It’s too soon,” Franco said. “It’s ambitious but it’s very positive that the Chancellor’s Offices of the CSU’s and community colleges have been meeting and have already had discussions. I think they’re all on board.”
Bernard Vinovrski, associate vice president for Enrollment Services, said that it’s a very well constructed bill.
“The real issue will be the implementation at community colleges and advising,” he said.
If a well-conceived plan is put in place, but students are not presented it in a clear way, it won’t have an impact, said Vinovrski.
According to Franco, the bill won’t necessarily get rid of the unnecessary amount of units that some students take to transfer. That’s up to them.
“The one thing we cannot govern is student interest, student objectives, student’s personal circumstances.”