AA-T degrees becoming a reality

Patricia Rocha, Reporter

An Associates Degree of Transfer is a new way of getting students though college quicker and more conveniently.

Bakersfield college transfer counselor Sue Granger-Dickson talked about how this new transfer degree came to be and how it benefits students.

“[Senator Alex Padilla] got a lot of complaints with how long it took students to get through their community college and then how long it took them to get through to complete their bachelor’s degree,” she said about students who take major-related courses at a community college and then must take similar courses again at a CSU or UC because they weren’t granted credit for it.

Padilla then had a series of hearings to develop what is known as Senate Bill 1440, or the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act.

The bill requires that community colleges and CSUs come to an agreement as to what qualifies as lower division, and gives a student who complete that approved major-related course credit when transferring, calling them “transfer model curriculum.“

“It really forced the California community colleges and the CSUs to collaborate in order to create these degrees and the obvious benefit is for the students.”

“When a college submits a TMC, they also have to make sure that their courses are up to date and that they are similar in terms of their student learning outcomes,” she said.

“They don’t want one college to say, well I’m going to have my Psych 1a to be this way, and another one to have it be this way. Now there’s some flexibility, but they basically want their students to come out of the course with the same learning outcomes, because then that kind of guarantees that they’re covering the material that they need to cover.”

Though it may be a little confusing in the short term, this new transfer degree system only benefits the students.

“The benefit of these degrees is saying, if a student gets an associate of arts or an associates of science degree for transfer in a subject, they have 60 units; 18 units in a major and completion of the CSU general education breadth pattern or the IGETC pattern, which is about 39 units. They then take maybe 1 elective, which amounts to 60, and they have a 2.0 GPA. This guarantees priority admission at their local CSU or a non impacted local CSU that accepts that transfer degree.”

BC currently has four of these degrees, including communications, psychology, sociology and the most recent, studio arts.

There are also quite a few still coming up for approval.

When these TMCs, AATs or ASTs are being submitted, they’re going through the Course Identification Number System network to be reviewed and approved.

“When they’re approved, a course gets a C-ID number that a student can use to transfer anywhere in the CCC system or CSU system,” Granger-Dickson said.

“Whether or not they get the AAT/AST, is if the course is recognized. A Psych 1a is the same as Psych 100 or a Psych 205 anywhere, so it’s trying to reduce the confusion that students face when they’re looking at transferring.

“What I like best about these degrees is that they create a clear pathway. Students can get accepted mid-year with this degree, where as they couldn’t get accepted mid year without it.”

The website, www.adegreewithaguarantee.com, shows which schools have approved AATs and ASTs, and which CSUs will accept them.

Though this system is only directly affecting those who transfer to a CSU, the UC system has taken notice.

“They’ve decided for students who complete the AAT or AST at a community college, that they will give a second review of their application,” Granger-Dickson said.

“So they’re not going to grant them the 60 units and priority and all that, but it’s a great benefit. If a student, for instance, has written a very compelling personal statement, it will get read again, and often times things will be uncovered that would be beneficial to the student.”