UC announces pathways for transfer students

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The University of California announced Tuesday a number of new course “pathways,” which would clarify and streamline the application process for community college students applying to the university’s most popular majors.

The pathways, designed by UC faculty and applicable to any UC campus, consist of a recommended set of courses for California Community College students looking to transfer. UC President Janet Napolitano and officials from the community colleges announced 10 pathways at the Tuesday press conference, with 11 more to be finalized by the end of the year.

“This is a significant step for the University of California, one that will help us serve our students and the state,” Napolitano said in a press release. “These pathways will provide essential guidance to those who are pursuing a UC education and need a clear plan for moving forward.”

The creation of the pathways was one condition of a budget agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and Napolitano reached in May.

Napolitano initiated the process in 2013 with the creation of the Transfer Action Team, a group consisting of UC administrators and one student that produced a 2014 report regarding community college transfers. The report documented problems with the UC transfer system — such as most students coming from just a few colleges — and made several recommendations, including making the preparation process clearer so that more students from more schools could apply easily.

The pathways currently include the anthropology, biochemistry, biology, cell biology, chemistry, economics, mathematics, molecular biology, physics and sociology majors. After the university adds the 11 additional pathways, it will cover two-thirds of all transfer applicants, according to the press release.

“These pathways can make it easier for students to navigate what has traditionally been a complex process,” said Jacob Jackson, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

He said that this move is not unprecedented and that individual campuses have made agreements with local community colleges for many years.

Nearly one-third of new UC undergraduates are transfers, and about 90 percent of transfer students are from a California community college, according to the press release. The plan aims to help transfer students graduate within two years of transferring.

According to Lorena Valdez, program director at the UC Berkeley Transfer Student Center, the average undergraduate transfer student spends 2.15 years at UC Berkeley after being accepted. Valdez said she wished transfer students had more time to incorporate career planning, get to know their professors and plan for graduate school.

“I sometimes worry that these policies are designed to facilitate students moving quickly through the undergraduate degree and completing the degree within a certain amount of time,” Valdez said. Still, she said, the pathways were definitely a step in the right direction.

Contact Abdullah Mirza at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @mirza_abd.