The easiest way to get into the University of California is to transfer from a California community college
About 30% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by the University of California system are to students who began at a California community college and did their first two years there. It’s much less competitive to get into the University of California this way, and it makes a certain amount of sense. The University of California is known for research and advanced study, but nobody claims that its introductory-level classes are as good as its upper-level classes. You might actually get a better education in your first two years at a community college if you choose your college and courses wisely, work hard, and make full use of your professors availability. I have had students who earned “D”s in my classes at Drake High School who later graduated from UCLA and UC Berkeley this way. They just needed time to gain a little motivation and maturity.
Some UC campuses even have programs which guarantee admission to students who attend certain community colleges, take the required courses, and earn “B” to “B+” averages. You might want to look at UCLA’s Transfer Alliance Program or UC Davis’s Transfer Admission Agreement.
The main downside to studying at a community college is your classmates. Community colleges have more than their share of students who aren’t very committed to their education – students who are distracted by work, family obligations, social life, drugs, etc., or who have poor academic skills or just lack a work ethic. This doesn’t describe all community college students, and it doesn’t have to describe you. Just never let other students keep you from excelling.
The community college that sends the most transfer students to the University of California system is Santa Monica College. They have a great web site with tons of information and statistics on community college-to-UC transfers. Most of this information is relevant whether or not you attend Santa Monica College.
Only about 1/4th of the California Community College students who plan to transfer to a 4-year college actually do it! This is not because it is so hard to do. It is because many people in California are not making their education a very big priority. You need skills! You have to be able to:
- Read for comprehension
- Take notes
- Decide on a thesis
- Make an outline
- Write an essay or research paper
- Proofread, edit and revise
- Make a review sheet for an exam
- Solve algebra problems
- Manage your assignments and manage your time,
If you have spent your high school years avoiding these activities, you aren’t going to pass academic college classes whether they are at a two-year college or a four-year college. You will have to take and pass (non-credit) remedial classes first, which will lengthen the time you spend in school. There’s no way around learning those skills.
The California Community Colleges are open to everyone, but many are over-enrolled. You can’t always get in to the classes you need. So be warned! Enroll early.