Judith L. Smith is UCLA’s dean and vice provost for undergraduate education.
As a public institution committed to providing excellence and access to all qualified California students, UCLA has a proud history of admitting, enrolling and graduating California Community College transfer students. In fact, transfer students account for nearly 30 percent of our undergraduate student body and 40 percent of all new undergraduates admitted each fall.
At a time of rising tuition and fees, and an economy that hasn’t fully bounced back from the recession, transferring from a community college is the most cost-effective path to a bachelor’s degree for tens of thousands of students.
Keeping the transfer path to a four-year degree open is a compelling interest not only for UCLA but for California. Not surprisingly, the commitment to the transfer function is enshrined in California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, a blueprint that for decades has served the state well and which calls for 60 percent of UC undergraduates to be enrolled at the upper-division level.
At UCLA, transfer admission is very competitive. Last year only 29 percent of transfer applicants were admitted, compared to 23 percent of freshman applicants. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of admitted transfer students elected to attend UCLA, while only 35 percent of admitted freshmen did. The rate at which transfer students accept our offer of admission demonstrates their commitment to UCLA.
We are committed to increasing the diversity of our student body and support several units that focus on encouraging qualified community college students to consider applying to UCLA. These include the Center for Community College Partnerships, the Undergraduate Admissions Office and the Bruin Resource Center, among others. Their efforts have helped UCLA develop a rich and talented pool of transfer students who are among our most successful Bruins.
UCLA transfer students are also well prepared for upper-division work. They flourish here and add substantially to our student body as leaders and innovators. By every measure of academic merit, our transfer students are just as qualified and, once at UCLA, excel just as much as our admitted freshmen.
For example, at graduation, the UCLA GPA of our transfer students is similar to that of students who were admitted as freshmen. And based on preliminary data from the Division of Undergraduate Education, transfer students participate in research, community internships and education-abroad programs at the same rate as their freshman counterparts.
The same is true of graduation rates. Eventually, 91 percent of transfer students graduate with a bachelor’s degree – a figure comparable to their peers who matriculated as freshmen.
Among all UC campuses, UCLA has always been the most successful at enrolling and graduating transfer students. Nearly 40 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees awarded by UCLA each year go to students who come to us as transfers, 92 percent from community colleges. It’s a proud tradition to which we remain deeply committed.
In my decades of experience at UCLA, I have found that transfer students strongly identify with and ardently support the campus, both before and after they graduate. They are, regardless of the path that brought them here, proud UCLA Bruins. Recent statements suggesting that transfer students are less committed to or less engaged on our campus than four-year students do a disservice to our student body and to the university.