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Partnership Creates Transfer Pathways for California’s Community College Students

California’s community college transfer students will now have access to a wider range of higher education opportunities through a first-ever partnership between the state’s community college system and private, independent institutions.

The partnership between the California Community Colleges and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) expands transfer pathways to now give eligible California community college students in the Associate’s Degree for Transfer (ADT) pathway program guaranteed admission to 36 private, non-profit AICCU institutions such as Mills College, Pepperdine University and Whittier College.

AICCU President Kristen SoaresAICCU President Kristen Soares

ADT previously guaranteed transfer students enrollment in the California State University System, the University of California System, several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Western Governors University.

“Today, we have about 8,500 students from community colleges who transfer a year, and with this ADT [memorandum of understanding], we can serve even more, and should be serving more,” AICCU President Kristen Soares said Wednesday in a conference call announcing the partnership. “We’ll create more regional access for students while maintaining the hallmark of the ADT, which is a streamlined and strengthened transfer pathway.”

The enhanced pathway will save students time and money on their education journey with a 2+2 model providing students an opportunity to get both an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree. Soares added that all eligible ADT students transferring to participating AICCU institutions will come in with a junior standing.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said nearly 38 percent of community college students transfer to the state’s four-year institutions. The new ADT partnership intends to “significantly improve” that number by creating a “clear pathway” for students, he said.

Leaders organizing the partnership note that the ADT commitment aligns with existing guided pathways adopted at many of California’s community colleges. The 36 AICCU schools reviewed ADT curriculum and aligned certain majors where they could, Soares said.

“Of the 36 participating institutions, 342 ADT majors will now be offered,” she said. “Our hope is to continue, and our commitment is to develop this important pipeline for student success.”

Dr. Devorah Lieberman, president of the University of La Verne and chair of the AICCU Executive Committee, called the new ADT partnership a “fantastic opportunity” for California because the private, independent sector of higher education gives students broad and deep regional access to educational opportunities, she said.

“Every student, we believe, deserves to attend an institution that best meets the student’s educational goals and needs,” Lieberman added. “Today is a giant leap towards making that a reality.”

At the University of La Verne – a private, faith-based AICCU institution – there are more than 200 traditional-age transfer students and 400 nontraditional-age transfer students admitted each year, Lieberman said. The school is a Hispanic serving institution (HSI) where 40 percent of students are first-generation and 50 percent receive Pell grants.

Seventy-five percent of students come from within a 50-mile radius of the university.

“The ADT will provide more options for all of these students,” Lieberman said, adding that the 36 AICCU institutions “all look forward to welcoming” them to their campuses.

Brystal Colbert, a student at National University (NU) who transferred from Riverside City College and Moreno Valley College, said the ADT program allowed her to flourish at her current institution.

As a first-generation student entering college, she initially struggled with feelings of uncertainty about her future and “became overwhelmed and hit a wall,” she said.

Colbert took a break from community college, started a family and then worked full-time in special education services before deciding to return to school. She knew she needed a degree to fulfill her goals, she said.

“An education that offered a flexible format was critical to me,” she added.

Now, Colbert is in the NU Scholars program, which gave her a full-tuition scholarship.

“I would like to emphasize that the ADT pathways program will be rewarding to students such as myself because it grants them with a sense of security that we do not [often] receive at community college,” Colbert said, “and it allows the students to see their goals as possible.”

Tiffany Pennamon can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanypennamon.

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