More than half of Skyline students enter with the goal of transferring to a four-year college, but less than an eighth of students are doing so within three years.
A 2016 report from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College indicates that 80 percent of students nationwide aim to transfer and obtain a bachelor’s degree, but within six years, only 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree.
Bailee Cowart is in her third year in the SMCCCD, and has applied to two UCs and one CSU in hopes of obtaining her bachelor’s degree.
“(I’m motivated by) my want to succeed and my want to achieve my goals,” Cowart said. She added that she stays driven because she wants “to help others and to do that in the field I want I need that degree.”
According to Skyline’s transfer center website, 58 percent of Skyline students enter with similar aspirations, but as of Aug. 31, 2017, only 11 percent of students transfer within three years and 25 percent graduate. Transfer Program Services Coordinator Ernesto Hernandez, however, believes that people need to think past the data.
“It’s always been a challenge to measure (transfer rates) across California,” Hernandez said. “What’s important is who is the denominator? What students are measured in this analysis?”
Still, some students find the transfer process to be complex and easy to get lost along the way.
“It’s almost like a scavenger hunt to find all the requirements you need to do,” Cowart said. “For the community colleges, at least in California, there’s Assist.org, but it feels like sometimes even with that you’re missing things and you have to go search on other resources.”
Cowart’s sentiments about the process of transferring are shared by Kristiana Wolf-Blake, also in her third year in the district. She has applied to a variety of UCs and CSUs to obtain her bachelor’s degree.
“I think it’s really important to do a mix of your own research and talk to people that have been through it before,” Wolf-Blake said. “This is one of those things where truly no question is a bad question, the more information you have the better.”
Despite the difficulties, both Cowart and Wolf-Blake feel that their time in community college provided them with many traits that four-year schools may find valuable.
“I think community college is a really good in-between step. A lot of the people that I’ve talked to that went straight to a four year after high school were really unprepared and kind of shocked by the amount of work that they had to do,” Wolf-Blake said. “I can manage a job, I can manage real degree-level coursework, and I get to do it in a transitional sense. So it’s not jumping into the deep end fully, but it’s also not holding myself back.”
According to Hernandez, the relationship between California community colleges and CSUs has strengthened with the introduction of the associate’s degree for transfer. Similarly, colleges in the UC system have committed to admitting one transfer student for every two freshmen. California’s four-year public universities have been collaborating with California community colleges to help transfer students achieve admission.
“We have universities in our office almost every week doing what’s called pre-admission advising,” Hernandez said. “They meet with students one-on-one … not only do they inform you of the transfer requirements, they inform you of what the next steps are and what the campus life is, the residential life, (and) housing.”
To help students, Skyline boasts a student teacher ratio of 43:1, under the national average for a community college, as well as a transfer center designed to assist students. The transfer center offers workshops where students can get one-on-one help on their applications, visits from representatives from several four-year colleges and field trips where five or six campuses within a 150 mile radius are toured.
“Transfer is happening almost every day,” Hernandez said. “Just seek the services early to help you plan and transfer from Skyline College with a great experience but also in a timely manner.”