The University of California is looking to ease the transition from a joint university to a university with a new dual enrollment pilot program that will begin this spring. Graduates will be concurrently admitted to a community college and a nearby UC, with access to UC campus libraries and counseling. The program, however, excludes the most selective UC campuses.
For Ananya Bapat, the transition to UC Davis was a balancing act. During her sophomore year at De Anza College, Bapat spent her fall semester contacting counselors and admissions officers at the community college and UC to ensure her hard-earned credits would transfer to the new campus. The conflicting advice she was given at times only added to the confusion of the transfer experience, she said.
“The process itself can be really overwhelming … along with (the fact that) you’re a sophomore in college, you’re rewriting on top of classes and everything,” said Bapat, currently a fourth-year student at Davis. and a peer counselor in the university’s Transfer and Reentry Center.
A new pilot program may make it easier for students like Bapat to transition to UC starting next fall. Under the dual admissions program, high school seniors rejected by UC can enroll at a California community college with a conditional offer of admission to one of UC’s six campuses. They will have access to the UC campus from day one of their joint college careers and can use UC libraries, attend transfer events, and receive advice from special dual enrollment advisors.
The program is specifically designed for students who have missed at least one of the 15 high school courses required for admission to UC but have earned a high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher. During a UC Board of Regents meeting last week, Vice Chancellor Michael Brown praised the program as advancing academic equity in the state. He added that through no fault of their own, personal challenges or a lack of UC-required courses at high schools can prevent students from preparing for admission.
At the same time, the program aims to remove some of the barriers that prevent local university students from transitioning. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, only 19% of California Community College students who plan to transfer to a four-year university successfully do so within four years.
Abeeha Hussain, a UCLA fourth-year student and UC student affairs officer for the UC Student Union, said she believes students will reap the benefits of dual enrollment as long as UC campuses actively promote the program at local high schools.
“It really creates this incentive for students to think, ‘I’m not going to be rejected because I’m not good enough for the school, but they’re going to put me on hold,'” said Hussain, who transferred from Palomar College. “Of course I’ll go to my college if it means eventually going to the UC of my dreams.”
About 10,000 high school students apply to UC each year without meeting freshman eligibility requirements, UC Director of Admissions Han Mi Yoon Wu said at the Regents meeting. Of that population, 3,700 students have not met UC high school course requirements but have a 3.0 or higher grade point average, making them eligible for the pilot program.
Students who receive a first-year UC offer are excluded—even if they join the 7,000 individuals who annually decline UC admissions to attend California Community College. UC may also exclude some majors from the dual-enrollment pilot project that will admit students through fall 2025, including computer science and engineering at some campuses.
A similar program is in the works at California State University, where it will also include students who have been accepted but are unable to attend immediately due to financial or personal issues.
More support for transfer students
Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, said transfer students can be enrolled at a university with a clear path to a UC campus. He added that the early admissions offer differentiates the pilot program from existing UC transitions, which only admit students in the spring and don’t have the same access to UC campuses and support.
Dual admission “can be really powerful in connecting a student to the campus or campuses they want to attend,” Johnson said.
Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, a former chancellor of California’s community colleges, said he believes the program will promote greater geographic diversity among UC transferees by providing a clear path forward for students in underserved regions of the state such as the Central Valley and Inland Empire. .
Students of color, as well as low-income individuals or the first in their family to attend college, may be more likely to apply to UC without meeting the admissions requirements and benefit most from the pilot program, Jessie added Ryan , executive vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a research and advocacy group.
Logan Ueno, a fourth-year student at UC Davis studying political science, said regular visits to the UC campus can help transfer students make informed decisions about their futures and gain a sense of attending a larger school.
“Coming from a community college, the university attendance is much greater and there are many more resources that can be used on campus,” Ueno said. “I know I’ve taken advantage of some resources on campus since transferring to Davis, and it’s really helped alleviate some of the stress of going to UC.”
Having access to a coordinator who can act as a liaison between the UC and California Community College systems will also benefit students who often take on the responsibility of navigating the transfer system on their own, Bapat said.
“This will help you on both ends of the transfer,” Bapat said. “I think (a coordinator) would clear up a lot of confusion and make the process even more streamlined.”
The UC pilot follows a handful of other dual enrollment programs across the country. In Virginia, George Mason University partnered with Northern Virginia Community College to offer students automatic enrollment at the university. Launched in 2018, the program has drawn attention for its strong support for local university students who can spend time on George Mason’s campus and take courses there as they earn an associate degree.
UC also created its dual enrollment program in 2004, but the program faced an early end following funding cuts in the 2004–05 state budget. Only 67 students joined the dual enrollment cohort in fall 2004, despite the fact that more than 37,000 could have applied.
Oakley believes the new UC program will be better than its predecessor.
“I think right now the governor is behind this pilot, I think the Legislature is behind the pilot and I believe the regents are behind the pilot,” said Oakley, who left the community college system to become president of the College Futures Foundation, which helps fund higher education. CalMatters education. “I think he has a much better chance of success.”
The most selective campuses are excluded
However, UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego remain conspicuously absent from the new pilot program. Some regents criticized the three highly selective campuses for not participating. Student regent candidate Merhawi Tesfai said the three campuses face some of the biggest challenges in accepting and enrolling students from underrepresented backgrounds.
“I feel like there’s an idea that (dual admission) would help that problem in some way,” Tesfai said. “I would really like us to consider the inclusion of these three campuses.”
Demand for the three campuses is high among transfer students. Forty-five percent of students who receive guaranteed admission to a UC campus through one of the university’s existing programs end up enrolling at UCLA, UC San Diego or UC Berkeley instead, despite the lack of guaranteed entry paths at those schools, Brown said during the Regents Meeting.
However, he added, offering dual admissions at high-demand campuses may inadvertently crowd out other deserving applicants.
“Every warranty program is superseded,” he said. “We also aim to be as fair as possible in the admissions process.”
By creating a clear and affordable path to UC, Oakley said he hopes the pilot program will increase community college enrollment, which was in decline before the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to decline. California universities have lost 350,000 students since the 2019-2020 school year, a drop of more than 16 percent.
“I think the more students who see themselves as transfer students, the more they will take advantage of their local community,” Oakley said.
Tagami is a contributor to the CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across California. This story and other reporting on higher education is supported by the College Futures Foundation.