East Los Angeles College has signed an agreement with California State University, Los Angeles, designed to encourage community college graduates to transfer into the four-year university system.
According to Rodolfo Arevalo, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Cal State L.A., the agreement is the first of its kind in the nation and is aimed primarily at eliminating the mystique surrounding four-year colleges.
"Many students go to a community college because they feel they can't make it at a four-year college," Arevalo said. "We're trying to break down that image and indicate that, in fact, they can make it."
The transfer agreement, signed June 19, is also an attempt to promote educational opportunities for minorities, who make up 90% of the 15,000 students at East Los Angeles College.
"This was definitely established with that in mind," said Fran Marroquin, an East Los Angeles College counselor. "We felt that maybe those students do need that extra encouragement, that extra boost, that extra push to get them (to a four-year college)."
The agreement features such cooperative measures as counseling on transfer procedures, admissions and financial aid workshops, and, if funding can be obtained, establishment of a transfer center at East Los Angeles College. In addition, faculties at both schools are expected to coordinate their curricula so credits will be easier to transfer and East Los Angeles graduates will be better prepared for courses at Cal State L.A.
"You would think that this should happen anyway," East Los Angeles President Arthur D. Avila said. "But the only way to ensure cooperation is to formally declare that we are going to engage in this kind of exchange."
In fact, many of the measures are similar to things the two-year school has been doing for several years, Marroquin said.
"This agreement just kind of solidifies everything," she said. "It gives us credence and administrative support."
Less Intimidating Transfers
Although there are new elements in the counseling process--such as the transfer center--administrators at both colleges said the agreement is primarily designed to make transferring less intimidating.
"Many community college students want to transfer but somewhere change their mind," Arevalo said. "We want them to be aware that there is somebody waiting for them when they make the move."
Despite huge enrollments, attrition rates at community colleges have soared in recent years. Conceived in the 1950s as steppingstones to four-year colleges, community colleges have struggled in the last decade to send even a small percentage of students into the university system.
In the fall of 1983, for example, the California Postsecondary Education Commission estimated that only about 35,000 out of nearly 1.2 million community college students transferred to public universities, and probably fewer than 5,000 transferred to private colleges.
East Los Angeles College has had the same problem. Although about 10,000--two-thirds--of the school's students expressed the intention to move into the university system, fewer than 1,000 made the transfer last year, said Dr. Ernesto Ballesteros, dean of admissions. Of those, 512 transferred to Cal State L.A.
"That's part of the nature of the student who comes to the community college," Ballesteros said, adding that he thinks transfer statistics do not adequately represent the function of community colleges.
Ballesteros said a recent survey of East Los Angeles College students shows that about a third of them are attending community college to acquire or improve an occupational skill and are not necessarily seeking to transfer directly into a four-year college.
In addition, he said that with a median student age of 27, even those who plan to transfer often have vocational, financial and personal commitments that prevent them from continuing their education.
Administrators at both colleges said that the transfer agreement is not a replacement for the community college and that there will be no attempt to recruit community college students before they complete the 56 transferable units required by the university.