College Transfer Problems: A Detailed Analysis

University of California Transfer Action Team Report

By Michelle Squeiros


 UC President Janet Napolitano  has the vision to call for a President’s Transfer Action Team (Team) to outline recommendations to streamline and strengthen the student transfer process between California Community Colleges (CCC) and the University of California (UC).

The report released on Wednesday by the Team is significant because it recognizes and offers solutions for addressing the lack of diversity in transfer applications and admissions by region and race/ethnicity. When 50% of transfer students come from only 19 CCCs – concern and urgent action is appropriate. CCC students in each of the other 93 CCCs deserve the opportunity and preparation to also get to the UC. Direct outreach to targeted campuses, early information, the use of technology, and professional development for community college faculty are good ways for the UC to expand the CCC transfer pool. The recommendations to offer a more welcoming and supportive environment to transfer students once they arrive on a UC campus is also laudable and encouraging.

But the biggest game changer in improving CCC transfer to the UC is in streamlining and simplifying the actual pathway between the two segments. And this is fully within the UC system’s control. The UC must do away with the 110,000 pathways to transfer and follow the significant groundwork laid by the partnership between the CCC and CSU to create Associate Degrees for Transfer. These new degrees are fundamentally moving away from confusing and varying transfer agreements between colleges and universities toward a single clear degree pathway between the two segments. And they provide the added bonus of guaranteed admission with junior standing to the CSU while saving students time and money as they more quickly navigate their path to a Bachelor’s degree.

The UC can be groundbreaking in its approach to streamlining transfer by adopting the Associate Degree for Transfer and Transfer Model Curricula already created, modifying it in a clear and simple way to reflect UC’s more rigorous admission requirements. It must eliminate the confusion and complication experienced by students hoping to transfer by getting rid of the varying requirements from campus to campus, even for similar majors. Simplifying transfer makes each of the other challenges raised in this report easier to address including outreach, counseling, guidance, and use of technology. This is the single most important lever by which UC can improve transfer.

Unfortunately, many of the recommendations to streamline transfer end with “where possible” and “where appropriate.” It must be possible now, and it is always appropriate, to fix a system that is broken and to provide better transparency for California students who wish to see their dream of entering the UC realized. Implementation must also happen at a more urgent pace, our students cannot wait for the adults in the room to fix the system over the course of more than four years, nor can our state’s economy which demands that we produce a growing number of college graduates.

A transfer overhaul at the UC is necessary and now is the time.


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