The Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (The RP Group) held a panel via Zoom, “The Truth about Transfer: What Students Say They Need to Get Through the Gate,” on May 19, to discuss its study on students’ transfer capacity, and students transfer experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RP Group is a non-profit, non-partisan team of the board of directors and staff to increase success for California Community College students.
From the RP Group website, “The study focuses on the Central Valley and Inland Empire as students in these regions have lower college completion and transfer rates, which suggests that they may face unique challenges along their transfer journey.”
The panel included RP Groups’ Alyssa Nguyen, MA, Project Director, and Dr. Darla Cooper, Executive Director, along with transfer students and Mariana Moreno, Transfer Center Coordinator, and Through the Gate Advisor from Crafton Hills College.
According to Cooper, the transfer capacity-building framework summarized by surveys and interviews conducted with over 800 students from 31 California Community College during Phase 2 of the Through the Gate transfer study.
Cooper shared the four factors of the framework; finances (the “biggest hurdle” students cited), students’ complex schedules, missing accurate and timely information, and the absence of social support.
“What we learn from them is that this was not a motivation issue. A vast majority of [students] were motivated to transfer to have a better life, for themselves and their families. We also learn colleges need to provide a more holistic and integrated approach to help students’ ultimate goal, which is not to transfer. Their ultimate goal is a bachelor’s degree and we have to keep that in our minds as we are helping them,” Cooper said.
A questionnaire panel was introduced to three soon-to-be transferring Crafton Hills College students. Nguyen asked the students as they approached transfer during the COVID-19, what issues have they related to the factors the panel had previously discussed, and who are they turning to for support.
“Well as an undocumented DACA student, the main factor is financial aid and how to afford college,” said Emiliano Arizmendi-Castilla, a political science major. “What resources are available for me or everyone who is [also] a DACA student. That is the main option because there is not much info out there that can help us. Also, with the COVID-19 situation, there is no communication with people on campus. That is my main challenge, communication and how hard it is to make an appointment.”
Liza Mejia, a sociology major, plans to transfer to UCLA in the Fall. Mejia was accepted to all four UCs she applied to. When asked to give out advice for other transferring students by the panel, she shared she was first declined admission by a Cal State and the whole process was very discouraging.
“I probably would have given up but I feel really happy having a [administration] that looks at you as a student. You need to have more caring individuals representing your school and working for you,” she said.