Secretary of State Alex Padilla Reflects on the Importance of Going the Distance on Transfer Reform for California Students

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By: Secretary of State Alex Padilla

California has made tremendous progress in building a community college transfer pathway that helps students reach their educational goals and receive a college degree. That’s a big difference from where we were just six years ago when confusing and conflicting requirements kept so many California community college students from transferring to a four-year university. For those students fortunate enough to transfer, the burdensome process drove up their costs and the time it took to complete a bachelor’s degree. Even fewer students transferred with an Associate Degree to show for all of their hard work at their community college.

Both Senate Bill 1440 and Senate Bill 440, that I authored as State Senator, established a clear, streamlined pathway for community college students working to transfer to a California State University (CSU) campus. The idea is simple – students take 60 units of transferable coursework at their community college, earn an Associate Degree for Transfer, receive guaranteed admission to the CSU system, receive junior standing once they enroll at a CSU campus, and are then guaranteed to earn their bachelor’s degree within 60 units. The legislation also established benchmarks to measure and ensure progress is made by all community colleges and CSU campuses so that regardless of where a student lives, they can find a clear pathway to earning a bachelor’s degree.

We will continue to see more and more students benefit from this streamlined, efficient system and the new Associate Degrees for Transfer. Already the number of students earning the new degree is nearly doubling year after year, and that’s a trend I am proud of. These new degree pathways help students and their families navigate a path to a bachelor’s degree, help keep college affordable, and will help provide the educated workforce that our economy demands.

I applaud the work by the community colleges and CSU that demonstrates that the challenges of our education system can be tackled through study, planning, and a new spirit of cooperation and dedication.

I thank the Campaign for College Opportunity for its ground breaking research that helped form the basis of SB 1440 and SB 440, and for its continued attention and follow up studies on implementation. Only through this kind of vigilance can we build a better, more responsive higher education system that benefits students, taxpayers, and our economy.