NORTHEAST GLENDALE — When Hayk Rostomyan applied to UCLA after graduating from Glendale High School last year, the response put him on a different track.
A letter informed him that admissions staff recommended he further his education elsewhere and reapply. They didn't mention that there'd presumably be fewer admissions due to fewer dollars spent on higher education.
Rostomyan was among the hundreds of Glendale Community College students who took home fliers and information from more than 50 colleges and universities from across the country Tuesday during the college's Transfer Fair.
Rostomyan, 18, said he's keeping a good attitude despite the most competitive higher education atmosphere many college officials can remember.
"I've got all my classes I need for my major," he said. "It should be easy to transfer. They may admit fewer students, but it's always been competitive. That hasn't changed."
But in some ways it has, according to Glendale Community College officials and representatives of visiting colleges and universities. Public school college admissions are far more rigid and unforgiving than in years past, said Kevin Meza, who runs the transfer center at Glendale Community College.
"It's the first time universities are actively trying to find ways to not admit students," he said. "They're not trying to be malicious. They don't have the funds to support it."
Glendale Community College sent more than 1,000 students to public universities in California last year, and 50% of students enroll at four-year universities within six years of community college study, according to the California Community College Chancellor's Office.
It's a difficult process, and transferring ought to be treated as an independent class, where coursework is replaced with understanding deadlines and fulfilling requirements, Meza said.
In years past, Meza, who's been involved in college transfers as both a student and counselor since the early 1990s, would make guarantees to students. He'd say that they would have a positive experience applying to transfer, and that they'd land somewhere.
"I can't make those promises; that stopped two years ago," he said. "Now I say, 'Trust me, we're doing the best we can to make you competitive.'"
At Cal State Los Angeles, five majors have been impacted by more students enrolling than the system or university can fund, said Darlene Buxton, a recruiter for the school. Glendale students have expressed worry that budget cuts have erased space for their higher education, she said.
"There are a lot of students concerned about that," Buxton said. "A lot of students are applying to winter quarter but because of the budget … instead of the year-round [admissions], they are more cognizant of the deadlines."