Five Tips for Transferring to a UC From a Community College

2015-11-04-1446651845-251472-UDDavisSignCopy.jpg
Photo Credit: Elena Graham

By Isabella Flores, Online Advisor
Students Rising Above

Ever heard the phrase, "the early bird gets the worm?" That's certainly the case here! You will find that there are many requirements you must fulfill to be eligible to transfer to a University of California (UC) campus.

The UC's requirements differ depending on a variety of factors -- whether you are on a semester or quarter system at your community college, which major you are pursuing, and which course pattern or plan you choose to follow.

Below are five tips to consider when beginning the process of transferring to a UC:

Tip No. 1: Meet With Your Academic Advisor... Early and Often!
Transferring to a UC can be confusing, so it's important to connect with your academic advisor as soon as you enroll at your local community college. Your academic advisor can help you with course selection before you register for classes. They can also assist with exploring major or minor options, transfer requirements and graduation requirements. At many community colleges, your academic advisor can also help connect you with career and internship program resources.

The earlier you meet with your academic advisor the sooner you can get on track to transfer. Remember, your community college advisor is an expert in helping students transfer to a UC. If he or she doesn't know an answer, reach out to UC staff by calling the school's admissions office.

Tip No. 2: Use Available Resources
UC provides community college students with an online tool called the UC Transfer Admission Planner (TAP). By using TAP, students can track their progress in community college coursework to learn if they are meeting UC requirements. Ideally, you should meet with your academic advisor and begin filling in your Transfer Admission Planner before starting your first semester or quarter of classes at your community college. If you don't start planning early, you might take the wrong classes and put yourself in jeopardy of not finishing within two years. Note that UC staff will also use the TAP site to communicate information to prospective students.

In addition, UC has compiled its most popular 10 majors that students transfer into and created a roadmap called Transfer Pathways. You can utilize Transfer Pathways to easily determine the exact courses to take if you want to be eligible for that major at any UC. Some UCs may expect fewer courses, but no UC will expect more courses than the courses they list. Make sure to maintain strong grades in these courses if you plan to major in that subject area.

Finally, the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) is a curriculum plan for students looking to transfer to a UC. Students who follow IGETC meet freshmen and sophomore general education requirements before they transfer.

Tip No. 3: Satisfy the Minimum Requirements
UC gives California community college students first priority over other transfer applicants, and many campuses offer guaranteed admission to students who meet their well-documented prerequisites. Understanding the minimum transfer requirements in advance will help make the transfer process go as smoothly as possible.

There is a 7-course pattern of classes you must take by the end of the spring term prior to fall enrollment at a UC. You must also complete at least 60 semester (90 quarter) units of UC-transferable credit. No more than 14 semester (21 quarter) units of the 60 semester (90 quarter) units may be taken pass/fail or credit/no credit. You must earn at least a 2.4 GPA in UC-transferable courses (2.8 if you're a nonresident). Some majors require a higher GPA for admission selection.

Tip No. 4: Keep Track of Your Courses
The most important thing you can do to boost your chances of transferring to a UC in two years is to diligently track which courses you are taking throughout your time at a community college. We recommend using ASSIST, which helps find community college courses that are transferable to a UC or CSU campus, and shows how those transferable courses might be used to satisfy subject matter requirements for specific majors or general education requirements.

You should look into the UC majors you are considering and see what their prerequisites are. For example, to get into the Media Studies major at UC Berkeley, you need to take an introductory Political Science class. This is a class that can be taken at your community college-and it will fulfill a general education requirement. You might also find there are some classes that you can ONLY take at the UC. This frees up space in your community college schedule to fulfill other general education requirements, or to boost your resume and improve your skills by taking college writing or foreign language classes.

Tip No. 5: Research the UC Transfer Admission Guarantee
The UC Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) allows students to apply for the TAG program using the Transfer Admissions Planner (TAP). Once you apply, your academic records will be reviewed. If you are admitted into a TAG program, you are guaranteed admission into a UC program! You still need to apply to the UC system using the standard UC application, but when you are officially accepted, you will receive an early admission notification and guidance about major preparation.

It is crucial that you read the TAG Matrix. Each participating UC has specific requirements you must fulfill to be considered for TAG. The TAG Matrix and the TAG application deadline may change every year, so it's key that you do your research and meet with your community college advisor often.

Final Thoughts
There are 2.1 million students in the California community college system -- and according to the UC, nearly one in three UC students will start at a community college before graduating from a UC campus. Arm yourself with the necessary tools to make the transfer process as seamless as possible, ask for help when needed, and don't be afraid to let yourself stand out.

The University of California website says it best: "If you're at a California community college, your journey to UC has already begun."

Isabella Flores graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in media studies and sociology. She is currently an online advisor with Students Rising Above on the College2Careers Hub, where she provides personal guidance, information and resources to low-income, first-generation college students from the initial college application process, through graduation and into the workforce.