Hope is not enough

Written by: Michele Siqueiros, Executive Director, Campaign for College Opportunity

Can the UC serve more transfer students?

Should the CSU only serve transfer students?

And why there’s a lot to celebrate in having the community college system set goals to significantly boost the number of students who earn certificates, degrees or transfer.


Chancellor Brice Harris and the California Community College Board of Governors are to be applauded for their promise to produce 227,247 more certificates and degree earners and transfer students by 2024.  Reversing the decline in the number and proportion of community college graduates and transfers is absolutely critical if we are going to meet work force demand and help a new generation of students to fulfill their goals and dreams. We encourage the system to move faster toward their goal, set additional goals for decreasing time to completion, and put forth concrete plans for closing unacceptable racial and ethnic gaps in student success.

UC President Napolitano has launched an ambitious agenda to improve how transfer works.  And we applaud her.  Her team is rightfully worried that only 19 community colleges (of 112 in the state) provide over 50% of the transfer students into the UC.  Students attending community colleges at each of the other 93 campuses deserve an equal shot at a UC education.  We suggest one game changing reform that the UC can move forward right now to significantly improve transfer rates – institute guaranteed admission for students on the Associate Degree for Transfer pathway and demand enrollment funds necessary from our state budget leaders to make it possible.

The Trustees of the California State University (CSU) warned this week that absent additional state funding, they may have to turn away freshman and only admit transfer students.  As more community college students qualify for guaranteed CSU admission as transfers, Trustees worry that the CSU would not have sufficient space available to also admit freshman students.

The looming workforce shortage of 1 million bachelor degrees by 2025 means the state’s future well-being depends upon our ability to successfully enroll and graduate bothfreshman and transfer students.

The strengthened pathway created by the new Associate Degree for Transfer program, for which we advocated, is invaluable to students trying to make their way from community colleges to our four year universities. And, it must exist alongside our state’s historic commitment to guarantee of a spot in the UC for the top 1/8 and in the CSU for the top 1/3 of eligible graduating high school seniors.

We applaud Governor Brown for investing an additional $1.1 billion in our public colleges and universities over last year’s budget and urge him to further increase that investment and include strong accountability measures in order to meet demand for additional students. There is no greater investment this state can make than in our young people.

The strong leadership from UC President Napolitano, CSU Chancellor White and Community College Chancellor Harris in addressing these challenges gives us hope.  But hope is not enough. We must work with them to get more done and hold colleges and universities accountable to serving all students better – especially the growing number of students who are first generation, low income, and underrepresented. We must equally demand that the state of California properly invest in our higher education system to serve more Californians while putting in place strong accountability and policies that create an environment of student success.

We cannot afford to turn our backs on California students who have earned their spot in college. All students, freshman and transfer, must have an equal opportunity to achieve their college dreams. This is the bedrock of our public higher education system and we must fight diligently to ensure that we have the resources and focus on success to honor our commitment.  The time has come, California needs a clear agenda for higher educated that addresses these challenges.

About the Author:

Michele Siqueiros is the Executive Director of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

To read her complete bio, click here. Follow her on Twitter @MSCollegeOpp

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