A record number of applications flooded UC Santa Cruz’s admissions office last fall, with a 12.8 percent increase in transfer applicants.
The increase in transfer applications from California community colleges was nearly double this year’s 7.1 percent increase in high school senior applications.
A state mandate, initially passed in 2015, requires every UC campus to attain an admissions ratio of one transfer for every two first-years in exchange for $50 million in new funds from the state. Only UCSC and UC Riverside failed to reach the goal the last two years. In a speech at Cabrillo College last November, UC President Janet Napolitano said there were disagreements with the state over whether the mandate would be campus specific or systemwide. Currently, the state still expects all individual campuses to meet this goal.
If the mandated ratio is not met by 2020, the UC system will not be allocated the $50 million, said UCSC vice provost and dean of undergraduate education Richard Hughey.
“There are some good things coming out of the goal, but […] this sort of arbitrary state legislature going into individual campuses is a little troublesome to me,” Hughey said.
Next year, fall transfer admissions at UCSC are planned to increase from 1,232 students to 1,300 with about 100 more transfer students arriving in winter. First-year admissions are planned to decrease from 4,038 students to 3,900, Hughey said.
In total, the first-year class size entering in 2018 is expected to be around the same size as the year before since the admissions office wants to avoid increasing the total student population.
Each year until 2020, UCSC plans to increase transfer admissions. Part of this has been facilitated by changes such as reducing the required GPA for transfers from 2.6 to 2.4 in efforts to increase applications, yet UCSC still intends to keep frosh admissions at around the same numbers, said UCSC associate vice chancellor of enrollment management Michelle Whittingham.
“We have to be careful that we’re not going to say that we’ll increase our transfers by 600 in one year, because imagine what that would do to our community as well as the campus,” Whittingham said. “[…] I could absolutely guarantee it, if we bring the [first-year admittance] down, but that’s not good policy.”
The mandate forces UCSC to increase transfer enrollment numbers, but both the UC and California community colleges struggle to make the process a smooth one. Community colleges often fail to properly notify universities of a student’s credits, while universities have outdated requirements and guidelines for incoming transfers. Dylan Palley and Sapir Frozenfar, both second-year transfers, said their transfer processes required them to retake courses they already completed at their community colleges.
“They made us take a lot of prerequisites over again, even though we had already taken them at community college, which was a total waste of time. It’d be nice to segue directly into what we want to do,” Frozenfar said.
Palley received the wrong instructions for which classes to take before transferring, which he thought would satisfy requirements for his creative writing major.
“I was told in my community college that if I took English 101 and 104, that would satisfy my English requirement and I could come in to the literature department,” Palley said. “But when I got here, they told me I had to take 102, which was initially presented to me as a choice.”
The university has been increasing its presence on community college campuses in hopes that it will lead to a smoother transfer process. There is also an ongoing effort to review and streamline the requirements for certain programs such as environmental studies or statistics, said UCSC vice provost and dean of undergraduate education Richard Hughey.
Transfer students are also valued because of the varied experiences they bring to classrooms, said Hughey and Whittingham. Transfer students are made up of not only former community college students, but also veterans and workers returning to obtain their degrees. Frozenfar said she wishes the transfer community had a larger presence on campus.
“This is a huge school and it’s really beautiful and it’s really great, but the transfer community is small relative to the student body,” Frozenfar said. “[…] Not everyone can afford to go to college right after high school, so it’s comforting to see people within the same socioeconomic backgrounds.”