Transferring from a community college to a California State University once meant meeting the base requirement of 60 semester units. Now, applying with a specific associate degree will be the deciding factor between a smooth admission and a lengthy wait period.
Though many students will be left hoping for enrollment eligibility, eight CSU campuses will be accepting applications for students transferring from a community college only if they complete their Associate Degree for Transfer.
CSU spokesperson Stephanie Thara said that criteria for enrollment will also become more challenging, as less space means students with higher GPAs coming out of high school and community colleges will be accepted first. Transfer students have the most priority, and Thara advises them to ensure their enrollment by applying for a transfer degree.
“We encourage all California community college students to apply for the Associate Degree for Transfer, because these students are guaranteed a place in the CSU system,” she said.
These degrees differ from associate of arts degrees in that they provide a fast-track for students planning to transfer. While not offered in every discipline, Cerritos College journalism professor Rich Cameron says that transfer degrees have been developed for several more disciplines over the last year and a half, with the goal of developing them for the top 35 transfer disciplines.
“Some of the universities have indicated that they will have limited mid-year admissions only for those students coming in with these new degrees,” he said.
Cameron suspects that if the budget continues to shrink, more universities will feel pressured to give priority to students who earn these transfer degrees.
While the transfer path becomes narrower for students, CSU faculty and staff, who have already suffered cuts of 3,000 people in the last four years, are also in danger of further reductions.
Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget, stated in a press release from the CSU that they must start making these “terrible choices” now so they are prepared for the November decision.
“The university system is still a half-billion dollars in the hole, and if this trigger cut goes into effect, we will be at the same level of state funding as 1996, but serving 90,000 more students,” he said.
Students like marketing major Kevin Hebenstreit, who transferred from Napa Valley College to SF State last semester, feel fortunate to have been accepted upon hearing about the new enrollment restrictions.
“I’m so glad I got in when I did. Otherwise, I’d have to wait so much longer in order to get my degree,” he said. “Pretty soon, each generation is going to be less educated than the next. It’s a real shame.”
But while Hebenstreit can breathe a sigh of relief, students like Casey Lewis, a psychology major at Santa Rosa Junior College who is looking to transfer to Sonoma State next fall, were shocked to hear about the proposed cuts and possible waitlisting.
“Most of the people in my classes are only there to try to transfer,” she said. “It would totally put me off track. If something like this happens, you have to reroute. If I wasn’t so strong-willed, I might just give up on school.”
Jo Volkert, assistant vice president of enrollment management at SF State, said that 1,500 students may have to postpone their plans if they apply to SF State in the spring. She reiterated that students in nearby Bay Area counties will still have priority over non-local students, and said that the best thing for all incoming students to do is to stay updated.
“I advise students to continue to watch the website. Admissions start in August, and there may be some developments over the summer,” Volkert said.