California community college students face numerous hurdles in their efforts to transfer to four-year institutions, according to a report by the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based organization focused on student success.
Among California students enrolled at community colleges in the 2012-13 academic year, only 40 percent actually transferred after six years, according to the report released Thursday. Those students had completed at least 12 credits within six years and attempted transfer-level English or math courses. Meanwhile, only 2.5 percent of students transferred within two years.
The report's authors highlight multiple barriers that impede the success of transfer students, including changing coursework requirements and credits that fail to translate from one institution to another, forcing students to take an excessive number of credits.
“Transfer rates are low because navigating the process remains a cumbersome, confusing, and time-consuming experience for far too many students, despite reforms to improve transfer,” the authors wrote. “California’s current transfer process forces students, many of whom are first-generation college-goers, onto a path to a bachelor’s degree that is far more difficult and complex than it needs to be.”
However, the report also includes some hopeful findings for students earning an associate degree for transfer (ADT). These transfer pathways, established by state legislation in 2010, allow students to complete the requirements for transfer as juniors when they finish a community college degree, and they simultaneously gain guaranteed admission to a degree program in the California State University system.
More than half of students who used these pathways graduated with their bachelor’s degrees in two years, according to the report. In the last five years, the percentage of Black graduates who earned ADTs doubled, though only 37 percent of Black community college students who completed associate degrees were awarded ADTs, which shows room for improvement, the report said.
The report makes a series of recommendations for campus leaders and state policy makers, including automatically enrolling students in ADT pathways and creating an oversight body to align transfer requirements across the California community colleges, California State University campuses and the University of California system.