California Community Colleges need to improve transfer rates to universities

We’ve been covering the plight of our system of education for a while now. The other day our friend Mike Matsuda, President of the North Orange County Community College District forwarded this article to me on challenges of community colleges-increasing transfer rates to CSU and UC.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott on Friday, January 29th stepped in for Dr. Jill Biden and delivered the closing keynote address at the 8th Annual National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Chancellor Scott, a former California State Senator who spent much of his political career championing education issues, focused his remarks on the necessity of improving articulation between community colleges and four-year institutions.

“When courses do not transfer from a community college to a four-year institution, students lose valuable time and taxpayers waste a lot of money,” said Chancellor Jack Scott. “Improving how colleges and universities prepare students for transfer is a cost effective strategy for increasing graduation rates. My advice to cash strapped states is to invest a small amount of resources into developing common transfer agreements. Once transfer between systems becomes easy for students to understand, two and four-year colleges will recoup the economic benefits of running more streamlined institutions. In turn, these systems will successfully serve even more consumers.”

A recent study by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office indicated that in the 2007-08 academic year, taxpayers spent about $28 million on excess units taken by students to achieve a bachelor’s degree.

In general, community college students transferring to a California State University graduated with an average of 162 units when the minimum required is 120.

Chancellor Scott has set as one of his top priorities improving transfer rates for students attending California’s 110 community colleges.

Dr. Jack Scott, Chancellor

Scott supported legislation to permit community colleges to offer an associate degree in a major with the designation for transfer. Studies show transfer students do as well or better than native four-year students in terms of GPA and degree completion.

In Scott’s address he emphasized the need to improve national transfer rates.

Scott maintained that 30 states have some type of formal transfer and articulation policy written into legislation.

He believes that legislative incentives for transfer students, such as increased financial aid packages, guaranteed transfer to four-year institutions and priority admission along with common course numbering, and the automatic transfer of an associate degree will increase the likelihood that students will complete their educational goal.

By the year 2020, President Obama wants America to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. This target equates to five million new college graduates or certificate holders nationwide.

President Obama’s national goal is supported by HR 3221, or the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, which establishes three distinct grant programs. One of the three programs, The American Graduation Initiative, is funded at $630 million nationally and designed to increase degree completion.

“During economic downturns, high school graduates are more than twice as likely as college graduates to be unemployed,” said Scott. “Jobs of the future require higher levels of education. By 2025 California will fall approximately one million graduates short of the expected workforce needs. To compete in the new global economy, states must find a way to narrow this workforce gap. I believe this can be achieved, in part, by increasing transfer rates.”

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students is affiliated with the University of North Texas and is the leading national association dedicated to promoting transfer student success, advancing transfer research, and facilitating partnerships to enhance transfer.

More than 350 participants from across the country attended in the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students conference. The keynote audience included a mixture of two and four-year college representatives composed of advisors, orientation professionals, enrollment managers, admissions staff, faculty, and mid- to upper level administrators.

Scott, the chancellor of the largest system of higher education in the nation, is gaining a reputation as one of the foremost authorities on the importance of increasing transfer rates of community college students.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation comprised of 72 districts and 110 colleges serving 2.9 million students per year.

Community colleges supply workforce training and basic skills education and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions.

The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

For more information about the community colleges, please visit

  1 comment for “California Community Colleges need to improve transfer rates to universities

  1. Howard be my name
    February 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    We desperately need common transfer agreements between California community colleges and our state colleges and universities.

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