Senate Bill (SB) 1440, signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday, gives community college students an easier route into California State University (CSU) schools.
With “baby-boomers” on their way to retirement, the bill addresses a faster way for students to join the workforce. According to a SB 1440 fact sheet, “the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 43 percent of the U.S. private labor force is also eligible to retire between 2004 and 2012.”
Erik Fallis, the media relations specialist for the CSU Chancellor’s Office, said the bill aims to make the transfer process easier to allow students to graduate faster and fill that void.
“In brief, this bill provides a clearer pathway from the community college to a CSU bachelor’s (degree) through the associate’s degree for transfer within a specific focus,” Fallis said. “Students who complete the transfer associate’s would have 60 units of transferrable credit, enter as a junior and would only need to complete an additional 60 units for most university degree programs.”
The bill also would ease the frustrations of transferring.
“(SB 1440) would also reduce the number of unnecessary, non-transferrable or redundant courses a student takes during their undergraduate education,” Fallis said.
Rachael Acosta, 22, has been trying to transfer from Cuesta to Cal Poly to study political science. She said she finds the bill a relief.
“After three years of being in college, (Cal Poly) said they were not accepting transfers for the spring,” Acosta said. “That put my education on hold another year. I tried applying that following semester, but I didn’t get in.”
With the California budget crisis and schools such as Cal Poly accepting fewer transfers, one might wonder how this bill will affect the economy. Fallis suggests with the simpler system, the financial burden on schools will lift and they will be able to serve more students.
“Because of the elimination of ‘excess’ non-transferrable or redundant classes, (SB 1440) frees up seats for other students allowing CSUs and (California Community Colleges) the ability to serve an additional 50,000 students,” Fallis said.
Alexa Kuster, a Cuesta student who wants to major in environmental studies, said she likes the idea of an easier route into college, but that the struggle of transferring is essential to a student’s work ethic.
“I think (SB 1440) is a positive because that would get more kids into colleges, but I think we need that competitive edge to make us work harder,” Kuster said. “Community college students should have to work as hard. It’s not fair to the university students who already got in.”
Kuster also said she was under the impression that transferring to a CSU or a University of California (UC) school was already easy.
“I talked to a counselor at Cuesta who said if I signed a contract to a UC or CSU, (I could get in),” Kuster said. “I thought it was kind of a guarantee if I signed a contract.”
The bill, however, will not help student transfers to UC schools, according to Fallis.
“(SB 1440) is specific to the CSU system and community colleges. Another bill, Assembly Bill 2302, relates to the UC and the alignment of programs,” Fallis said.
AB 2302 is similar to SB 1440 with providing an associate’s degree that is transferrable, according to the bill. It also urges these programs to be more readily available and to have students more thoroughly informed about them. In addition, the bill also aims for UC schools to address which courses are beneficial to a transfer student and for CSU schools to address which community college majors are similar to their own.
With more opportunities for transfer students, Kuster said she is excited about the possibilities.
“I like it,” Kuster said. “Education should be more of a priority.”