GCC transfer rates take big dip

The number of Glendale Community College students transferring to California state universities dropped by more than one-third between the 2007 and 2010, upending a 10-year upswing. Officials say the change is directly related to state funding cuts affecting four-year schools.

During the 2009-10 school year — the most recent year for which data is available — 512 Glendale Community College students transferred to Cal State campuses, down from 806 students in 2007-08, the zenith of a decade-long trend that saw transfers grow by 67%.

The drop-off is rooted in the hundreds of millions of dollars cut from the California State University budget amid the economic downturn and mirrors what is happening at campuses throughout the state, officials said.

“The CSU numbers, we think, are directly related to their inability, due to budget cuts, to accept as many transfer students as they had been,” President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said. “The spaces are so competitive. There just aren’t as many spaces available as there were.”

Transfer numbers to University of California campuses remained largely flat. During the 2009-10 school year, 297 Glendale Community College students transferred into the UC system, down from 301 students in 2008-09, but up from 285 students in 2007-08, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

Data for transfer rates to private institutions was not available.

Even with the decline, Glendale Community College is the top transfer school in its region, which includes Pasadena City College, Santa Monica College and Los Angeles Pierce College, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which tracks students for six years.

Glendale also ranks third statewide among colleges of comparable size, with Cal State Northridge, Cal State Los Angeles, UCLA and UC Irvine as the most frequent transfer destinations in recent years.

Schools like Cal State Long Beach and San Diego State — once well within the reach of average students — are now wildly competitive, said local college counselors, who are now having to rework the advice they provide to their students.

Strong grades are no longer enough. Extracurricular activities are increasingly important. And meeting strict deadlines is a must.

“I used to be very reassuring to students because they were stressed about how the college process worked,” said transfer counselor Kevin Meza. “I could assure them, ‘Don’t worry, you are going to get into college. You might not get into the one you want, but you will get in somewhere.’ Now my message is, ‘Let’s make you competitive and see what happens.’”

Applicants have to pay close attention to last-minute changes, counselors said.

“Right now, according to the CSU Mentor website, they say they are accepting applications for winter and spring 2012,” transfer counselor Jonn Aque said.

But that could change in short order, throwing plans out of whack, he said.

A few years ago, officials at one Cal State university started soliciting spring transfer applications and then announced they had changed their minds. One month later, they flip-flopped again and said they would accept applications for spring after all, Aque said.

Despite the challenges, the Glendale Community College continues to effectively prepare students to succeed at the next level of academia, said college Trustee Vahe Peroomian, a lecturer at UCLA.

The data is an affirmation of what the college has been telling the community all along, he added.

“I do get a number of students coming from Glendale college who take my classes and I can easily say that they are much better prepared than students who come straight out of high school,” Peroomian said.

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