SACRAMENTO, California -- Community college students in California are being encouraged to take a closer look at their education plans, to see if transferring to a state university makes sense, and new policy changes aim to ease that pathway.
The changes are part of a package of higher-education bills Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law this month.
Two of them simplify the process for students at two-year schools to transfer to others within the state's public university systems.
Michele Siqueiros, president of the nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity, which championed the bills, said the changes come amid increased awareness of equity issues in the U.S.
"There are huge gaps in transfer rates, depending on race and ethnicity," Siqueiros pointed out. "You have significantly lower transfer rates for Latinx and Black students, for some southeast Asian students, for low-income students."
She pointed out a lot of the students are the first in their families to attend college, but face financial obstacles in extending their academic careers. A report from the group found among freshmen in California community colleges, only 2.5% will transfer in two years.
Among other changes, a bill signed by the governor eliminates redundancies in labeling required courses.
While an easier transfer path will help, Siqueiros noted other barriers include an insufficient number of counselors, but she hopes a simplified process means it will not be so overwhelming for students making decisions on their own.
"We shouldn't make it so confusing that you actually, you know, need to have hours of counseling session in order to get it right," Siqueiros argued.
She warned there is legitimate concern within the higher-education community about capacity at larger institutions. With the new laws in place, advocates want the state's public universities to ensure they have enough resources to welcome eligible students who plan to take advantage of the quicker pathway.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
Source: California News Service