In a socially and economically diverse state like California, students take many different paths to get to UCLA. While most of our students spend four years or more on campus earning their bachelor’s degrees, an increasing number of Bruins are transfer students, earning the same degrees in less time at UCLA. In fact, one-third of incoming undergraduates this year are transferring from California Community Colleges — a number up significantly from a generation ago.
This means that a UCLA education is increasingly within reach for competitive students from all backgrounds. While UCLA has worked to broaden financial aid, two years of community college before transferring offers students the opportunity to earn a UCLA degree with just two years of UC tuition.
Transfer students are an important part of our campus community. They are diverse, highly qualified — most admitted transfer students have GPAs of 3.6 or above — and highly successful, as evidenced by their 90 percent graduation rate.
UCLA, in fact, enrolls more transfer students than any other UC campus. Our recently expanded Transfer Student Center offers a number of services aimed at making sure those students get the most out of their experience as Bruins and that they succeed here.
Transfer students also comprise some of our most successful alumni. Both the legendary Jackie Robinson and Robert Merrifield, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, transferred here from Pasadena City College. And former congresswoman Diane Watson ’56, whose district included UCLA, was a transfer student from Los Angeles City College.
UCLA works with community colleges all across the state to attract qualified applicants, but this past year we gave particular attention to the Central Valley. Students in that part of California are geographically isolated, typically from low- and moderate-income families, and often among the first in their families to attend a four-year college. This past year, our recruiters made multiple trips to those colleges to work with counselors and encourage students to apply. Their work has paid off, with applications and admission offers from those schools up by nearly a third.
Earlier this year, UCLA’s efforts were recognized as exemplary by the American Talent Initiative, an alliance of top four-year institutions committed to attracting, enrolling and graduating an additional 50,000 students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds by 2025.
Their research found that each year, across the nation, 80 percent of community college students say they intend to transfer to a four-year college or university and earn a bachelor’s degree, yet only 14 percent of those students ultimately attain a four-year degree within six years.
Clearly, there is much more work to be done. We are proud of our efforts to keep UCLA accessible and will make sure they continue.
This fall, nearly 3,200 transfer students will arrive on campus as part of an incoming class filled with diverse experiences, backgrounds and talents, but sharing one common goal: to be Bruins. I know we will all benefit from their significant contributions.