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SBCC ‘two-year transfer’ myth gives students false hope

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

The Channels Editorial Board

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It’s that time of year again; summer is approaching and many City College students are preparing to leave their education in Santa Barbara behind as they transfer onto bigger things.

Of these students, the majority were not able to achieve this goal in the “two-year transfer” City College so famously vouches for.

The Channels Editorial Board believes the two-year transfer concept is a myth at our college because of the disorganized academic counseling program and student confusion on transfer requirements.

This myth is ironic because City College has been named and promotes itself as the No. 1 community college in California.

To make the two-year transfer myth more realistic, City College needs to have a more specific process for explaining requirements to students.

Our students aren’t designated a counselor, and waiting in that cringe-worthy line at the Student Services Building is often pointless. The counselor’s booths sometimes end up closing before students get to their turns.

If students are lucky and do get a counseling appointment, chances are it’ll be a completely different counselor than the student last met with. Students will have to re-explain their entire educational background and goals. This wastes time and ends up resulting in differentiating feedback from the separate counselors they have met in the past.

City College should have assigned counselors to groups of students so that they have a designated individual who knows their stories and can help them reach their goals. Designated general counseling would probably make that long line in the Student Services Building less dreadful too.

Students are expected to come straight out of high school with a complete understanding of their educational paths. They need to know the number of units they are required to take and which classes count towards the universities they want to apply to for the two-year transfer concept to be realistic.

It’s a necessity that high school graduates wanting to transfer “on time” know exactly what they want to major in and which prerequisites they need to take. Many freshmen who didn’t take advanced placement classes in high school don’t realize they won’t transfer in two years if they don’t trade chunks of their Summer Break for City College classes.

For the students who don’t have a prior understanding to the transfer units and requirements, the college throws us the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum worksheet.

This fine-print document came straight out of a horror film.

Can it be any more confusing to recent high school graduates? Readers are lying if they say they understood this right off the bat the first time they looked at it.

At the top of the worksheet it states that the most recent version was updated during the 2012-13 school year. It’s about time for an update.

It would be much more transparent to have a packet so that the font could go up a couple points and students could put down their reading glasses. The worksheet also only gives us abbreviations and not specific course titles, seemingly because there isn’t any room on the single-page sheet.

The document also throws in old classes City College hasn’t offered in years. Those outdated classes should have their own page to make the curriculum clearer to students using it as a reference.

A lot of students undeniably get sucked into the college lifestyle and put school on the backburner, thinking that City College is a guaranteed two-year stop. But nothing is guaranteed here. There is a lot of hard work and conceptual understanding that goes into transferring from City College. Although the motivated students who are one step ahead of the game can make it happen in two years, the numbers don’t lie.

There needs to be change for the two-year transfer myth to become a reality at City College.

Thankfully the college is taking steps in the right direction. City College was selected to participate in the California Guided Pathways Project. This project provides students with the opportunity to develop a structured plan, guiding them through college in the direction they wish to pursue.

The Channels Editorial Board is pleased that the Board of Trustees supported this project earlier this semester and can’t wait to see future students take advantage of it.

Hopefully this project is a guided step towards the right direction in fulfilling this myth.

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1 Comment

One Response to “SBCC ‘two-year transfer’ myth gives students false hope”

  1. Oscar Zavala on May 9th, 2017 12:30 pm

    In response to the opinion piece that was recently published taking issue with the ‘2 year myth’ at SBCC, the Academic Counseling Center wants to join the Channels Editorial Board in helping clear up any ‘myths’. Nowhere in our advising sessions or counseling appointments do counselors suggest that students should be done in two years. Academic counselors are well aware that the majority of our UC and CSU transfer-bound students will take, on average, 2.5 – 3 years at SBCC before being eligible to transfer and this is exactly what we tell all new to college students in their advising sessions.We also reiterate this in all of our appointments and in all of our presentations. We do not promote the 2-year transfer plan as a realistic goal for most because this is not within reach for the majority of our students and we agree that this misinformation can be frustrating. Perhaps the writer(s) of the opinion piece are confusing the SBCC Promise program (the new program for graduating local seniors which allows them to spend two years at SBCC tuition free) with the implication that they only have two years to complete their program of interest. Either way, hopefully students see this only as a benefit- even if a student is unable to complete their program of study in two years, two of the years have been paid for from the SBCC Foundation. ”
    Regardless of the possible confusion by the Channels, we take issue with the notion that the Academic Counselors are to blame for the low numbers of students being ready to transfer in 2 years. There are many other factors at play here which more accurately explain the 2.5 – 3 year average for UC/CSU transfer.
    -a student’s placement in math and English through assessment testing
    -a student needing to work while also attending school, resulting in fewer classes in a semester
    -a student’s eligibility for financial aid
    -a student changing their major or being undecided for a lengthy time
    -a student needing to retake substandard grades to establish the competitive GPA needed for transfer
    –a student being unable to attend summer school
    -and most commonly, as mentioned in the opinion piece itself, “a lot of students undeniably get sucked into the college lifestyle and put school on the back burner”. As a result of this last point, through most this semester, we have had available appointments each day that have gone unfilled. And you can imagine, when students wait until the last minute to receive counseling services, then appointments quickly fill and close, lines get longer and consequently, we are unable to provide everyone with an in-depth appointment.
    At the same time, we do understand that there are ways our department can change to help students feel more supported and to make it easier for students to get the in-depth counseling that they need. We realize that many students want to have an assigned Academic Counselor and to have an easier process for scheduling appointments so, for the past year, ACC counselors have been in the process of designing a new student caseload model and scheduling system. We are currently piloting the program and plan to fully implement the new caseload model in Spring 2017!
    With regard to the IGETC GE pattern, it is important to know that our department is not responsible for the design and updates to the existing form. The current format is, among other reasons, designed to be easier for returning students. Thanks to your feedback, we will continue to work with that office to promote a new design. Although the form may appear daunting, once explained, it’s relatively easy to understand. We review IGETC in depth at all our new to college advising sessions both online and in person, at the Transfer 101 sessions offered throughout the year, at all Vaquero days and of course individually at our counseling centers; Academic Counseling Center, the Transfer Center, the transfer center satellite kiosk on west campus, the International Student office, EOPS or the counseling athletic office. And, for interested and “motivated” students, there is an excellent video on our website that also clearly explains how to use IGETC. Also, any student interested in finding an up-to-date IGETC, can simply add the current year to their search and that form will be listed.
    SBCC has indeed been singled out as one of the top community colleges in the country, specifically for the exceptional programs and support services offered to promote student success. Being an outstanding college is the primary reason why the college sought out inclusion in the California Guided Pathways project! We in academic counseling are delighted at the opportunity that this initiative will provide because it will extend college wide, our Department’s ongoing efforts and initiatives for student success. Sharing accurate information is another component to student success and an important one for our service, so we hope these facts help change some opinions.


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SBCC ‘two-year transfer’ myth gives students false hope