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Campus Alert!

Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding transfer from Columbia College to a university. While these questions and answers are designed to provide general information to students, it is strongly recommended that you make an appointment to discuss your particular transfer questions and specific goals with a college counselor.

Central to the transfer process is the completion of an Educational Plan which is a course-by-course map to your transfer goal. Call 588-5109 to schedule an appointment to meet with a counselor.

Another key element in the transfer process is obtaining and learning how to use aColumbia College Catalog  (provided to you free at a college orientation session or in the counseling office).

Check out the resource information on Career/Transfer Center page as well.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding transfer:

What Does “Transfer” Mean?

Transfer is the process of completing the first half of a baccalaureate (Bachelor's) degree at a community college and then moving on to a university to complete the second half and then graduate from that school with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree.

Students at a community college who wish to transfer to a university are completing their lower division coursework (freshman/sophomore classes) which consist of General Education (GE) and preparation for their future major, known as Major Prep. Following transfer to a university, upper division (junior/senior) level coursework specific to a particular major is completed to earn the Bachelor's Degree.

Why would a student want to attend a community college instead of just starting out as a freshman at a university?

Since Columbia College charges much less in fees/tuition than a university, and has smaller class sizes, there is a potential for a large financial and educational benefit to students who attend Columbia and then transfer.  Properly prepared transfer-bound students at community colleges do the same coursework for their first 60-70 college transfer units as students who graduate from high school and go directly to a university as freshmen. Students who transfer from community colleges in California do just as well academically (in terms of graduation rates and grades) as students who start university as Freshmen. 

What Is Required To Transfer Successfully?

To transfer successfully you need to complete 60-70 college units which transfer to your destination university.   There are two main components to a successful transfer: completing a General Education (GE) pattern acceptable to your transfer university and completing preparation classes for your major at the university (Major Prep).

UC's online program, called Transfer Admission Planner, is designed to help CA Community College students plan for their transfer to UC.  This doesn't replace the need to meet with your community college counselor but it does help the UC's communicate with you and your community college counselor about requirements and helping you meet their requirements effectively.  See UC Transfer Admission Planner.

What if I’m clueless about where I want to transfer or what I want to do?

Come see a counselor and discuss your interests and aspirations. Have a counselor demonstrate and discuss the assist.org website with you. Be willing to put some time into using the website to research your options and see what’s out there!

Since education is most often a bridge to a future career, a firm educational goal is often set on a preceding career goal. With this in mind, consider taking a career guidance class such as Career Life Planning (Guidance 1) or Occupational Exploration (Guidance 11) to get some career direction. See a counselor, take a career interest questionnaire, and visit the college Career Center to start doing some research into your future.

What is a transferrable unit?

Courses are assigned a “credit” or “unit” value which is determined by the amount of time and rigor the course requires. Transferable units are earned by completing transferrable courses (see next).

What is a transferrable course?

Courses at Columbia College are numbered in a special way to help you identify courses that transfer for credit to a university. All courses numbered 1-99 at Columbia College transfer for credit to the California State University (CSU) system. Many (but not all) courses numbered 1-99 transfer for credit to the University of California (UC) system. Consult the Course Descriptions in the Columbia College Catalog, or talk with a counselor, to determine precisely which classes numbered 1-99 transfer to UC.

Is there a difference between transferable courses?

Yes, there is a difference since courses have different purposes. Some designated transferrable classes fulfill General Education (GE) requirements, while other designated courses prepare you for your future major, Major Prep. Courses that do not fulfill General Education or Major Prep are considered elective courses.

Remember, just because a class is transferable does not mean that it will fulfill your necessary transfer requirements. You need the right combination of courses to complete a successful transfer. Work with a counselor to develop an Educational Plan.

What is a General Education (GE) pattern, and which pattern should I use to transfer?

Completion of a General Education (GE) pattern is the best way to fulfill the GE required by a your transfer destination university. 

There are two General Education transfer patterns in the Columbia College Catalog. One is called the CSU General Education Breadth Pattern (which is also used for Columbia College Associate Degrees). The second pattern is known as the IGETC (which stands for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) pattern.

The CSU GE Breadth Pattern is designed to be used by students who are transferring to one of the 23 California State University campuses.

The IGETC pattern can be used by students who desire to transfer to either the California State University or the University of California system. Since it works to satisfy GE at either CSU or UC, this pattern is often used by students who are still making up their mind about which university system they want to transfer.   Please note: although the IGETC can be used for either CSU or UC there are several requirements in the pattern which are specific to each system. See a counselor to determine and discuss these requirements.

Completion of a GE pattern here at Columbia allows us to certify to your transfer university that your GE is complete. Certification is requested by you when you have your final transcript sent to your transfer school.

How do I find out what majors are available at CSU or UC schools, and how do I know what my Major Prep would be?

A special website known as Assist has been set up to help California Community College students transfer to a CSU or UC campus. The website has two main sections: Explore Transfer Information and Explore Majors.

Explore Transfer Information allows students to view Articulation Agreements that list courses needed to complete Major Prep for specific majors at specific CSU or UC campuses.

Explore Majors allows students to get to know the CSU and UC systems, the locations of their campuses, and the various courses of study available. A link known as Majors allows students to search for majors at CSU and UC campuses by area of study and by course discipline. Schools with majors within a particular area of study are listed along with links to their websites. This is a powerful tool for students to research prospective courses of study and transfer. Work closely with a counselor when using Assist.

How are educational planning and career planning related to transfer?

Most students would like their hard work in obtaining a College/University education to lead them to gainful employment. Education is often seen as a bridge to a future career. Students who believe that their education will have a payoff (whether it be a job/career or a better life) are students who persist with learning and finish their degree goals. Educational and career planning can help you to research yourself, research careers and plan an education to help you set goals to get to your destination.

What is an Educational Plan (Ed Plan) and how can it help me to transfer?

An Ed Plan is a step-by-step and course-by-course plan to reach your educational goal. You work with a counselor to choose the General Education courses you’d like to take and ascertain the Major Prep courses you need to transfer in your chosen major. Students with an Ed Plan have a goal and a plan to achieve it.

What classes do I take after transfer to a university?

You take Upper Division (Junior-Senior) courses in your specific major, a concentration (area of focus) in your major, and, depending on your transfer school, perhaps several Upper Division General Education courses.

It is helpful for those who are planning to transfer to obtain a catalog from their transfer university and review the courses they would be taking as a Junior and Senior. In this way you can be sure that you are planning to transfer in a major that lines up with your wishes.

Where Do Most Columbia College Students Transfer?

A very important factor in transfer is that you move on to a university that has the course of study that you want to pursue. With that in mind, the majority of students transferring from Columbia College move on to the California State University (CSU) system. A significant number also transfer to the University of California (UC) system. The CSU and UC systems are quality, publically-funded universities offering a wide variety of educational programs at a taxpayer-supported reasonable cost. Popular CSU transfer campuses for Columbia College students include: CSU Stanislaus, San Jose State, San Francisco State, Sonoma State, CSU Sacramento, CSU Chico and Humboldt State. Popular UC campus transfer choices for our students include UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley and UC Merced. Visit the Assist website to research publicly funded universities.

A few Columbia College students chose to transfer to a private or out of state university each year. Visit the California Colleges website and the Affordable Colleges Online site for more information about private/independent colleges and universities in California.  Work closely with a counselor if private or out of state transfer will be your goal.

What’s the difference between the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems?

Both are taxpayer-supported (public) university systems. The CSU system offers Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and the UC system offers Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate Degrees. The CSU system has 23 campuses statewide, while the UC system has 9 undergraduate campuses. The CSU system originally started off as teacher training schools, while the UC system started off as land grant schools with a focus on agricultural research.

Both systems have grown tremendously from their original roots. There is considerable overlap in the programs offered by both systems, but each system maintains certain specialties. For example, CSU still has an education/teacher-training focus, as well as specialties in business and nursing. Both systems train scientists and engineers. The UC system specializes in, and encourages, research at the undergraduate level. This is particularly true in the sciences as UC has research funding and specialized research laboratories.

It’s important to know that students achieving a Bachelors Degree at a CSU can go on to a UC for an advanced degree (Masters or Doctorate), and students finishing a Bachelors Degree at UC can go to a CSU to obtain a Masters Degree.

How and When Do I apply to UC or CSU?

To apply to the California State University (CSU) system, use the CSU Mentor website. To apply to the University of California (UC) system use the UC Pathways website.

For fall semester admission to a CSU campus students apply October 1-November 30 the year before they intend to begin at the university. For fall semester admission to a UC campus students apply November 1-November 30 the year before they intend to begin at the university. Some universities accept spring semester or winter quarter applicants. Please see the websites above for dates and deadlines.

I’ve heard that the University of California grants a Transfer Admission Guarantee for preferred admission for well-prepared students. What’s that all about?

Seven of the nine UC campuses allow students who are well prepared for transfer and who have above a designated grade point average (g.p.a.) the opportunity to apply for advanced guarantee of admission to one campus. This is called the Transfer Admission Guarantee (or TAG) process. A TAG guarantees an admission space to an approved student in a specific major at one UC campus.   Students are notified of TAG approval in early November. Please note: A TAG approved student is still required to complete the standard UC Admission Application by November 30th.

Who can apply for a TAG, and how do I apply?

Qualified students apply for a TAG in the month of September for a guarantee of admission for the following fall semester (in other words, the application for a TAG is one year in advance of transfer admission to the UC campus). A qualified student has finished at least 30 UC transferrable units prior to applying for a TAG, and has achieved or exceeded the designated g.p.a. for their major at their transfer UC campus (GPA can vary from 3.0 to 3.3 depending on transfer major, and is computed by looking at all of a student’s completed UC transferrable courses).   Additionally a qualified student has planned for, and will complete, a total of 60 UC transferrable units by the end of the following spring semester. For more information see a college counselor and visit the UC TAG website.

Once again, please see a counselor in advance to have your TAG questions answered and to plan for a TAG. Please note that two UC campuses (Santa Cruz and Davis) require a Columbia College counselor to review and approve all TAG applications to their campuses.

As a prospective transfer student, what are some important questions I can ask myself that can help guide me to select the right transfer university?

  • Does the school have the Bachelor's program I want? Use the Assist website to explore majors and review the Bachelor’s Degree websites at the various universities you are considering.
  • Will this program at this particular school lead me to my career goal? Note: this presupposes that you have given some consideration to what you want to do for a living, and how you want your degree to transfer to the work world after graduation.
  • Consider the community, the atmosphere, and the living and learning environment of the campuses you are considering. Which school(s) are most in alignment with your wishes and values?
  • Will you need any special services from the school? Do the schools have the services you require? Inquire of the school if you need clarification.
  • Check out the upper division (junior-senior) level coursework for the major(s) that you are considering at each school. Are these courses what you expected? Are they what you want to learn?
  • Compare all campuses with the criteria listed in the questions above. Which schools have advantages and disadvantages? Narrow your choices of campuses.
  • Lastly, visit the campuses of the final few schools that your are considering. Visit on a school day if possible. Consider visiting the department office of your major while you are there.
  • Use your feelings, as well as your intellect, to make your final choice.
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