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041618 Hancock transfer mou

Hancock College transfer student David Iturbide helps Leslie Fonseca (not pictured) complete a form for next month's graduation ceremony. Fonseca will be transferring to Cal State Los Angeles, while Iturbide is awaiting a decision from UC Davis.

A new agreement between the University of California and California Community Colleges system will guarantee qualified Hancock College transfer students a spot at a UC school.

Signed last Wednesday by UC President Janet Napolitano and CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the new memorandum of understanding, "Enhancing Student Transfer," creates a bridge to a four-year university for students who complete a UC pathway — a set of 21 course sequences approved by the UC — and achieve the required GPA.

Though applicants are not guaranteed a spot in their first choice school, students will be admitted into one of the nine UC campuses that accept undergraduates.

"This gives students another option [to pursue higher education,]" said Ashley Brackett, a Hancock College transfer counselor.

Between 300 and 500 Hancock students typically transfer to a four-year university every school year, according to Brackett.

"The UCs have been working very hard to increase their transfer student population, and I think this is another way of showing their dedication to that," she added.

The new memorandum builds on two decades of initiatives designed to increase collaboration between the two branches of California public education. An earlier memorandum signed in 1996 increased transfer enrollment by more than 50 percent from 1997 to 2004. Transfer enrollment in UCs increased by 20 percent between fall 2013 and fall 2017. 

"It took me so long to transfer," said David Iturbide, a Hancock College transfer awaiting an admissions decision from UC Davis. "I had to build myself up to transfer to a four-year institution." 

After graduating from high school in 2010, Iturbide said he took a year and a half off from school to work in the fields. He returned to school in 2012 by taking one or two classes per semester while balancing work and supplemental English lessons.

"We have students who transfer in two or three years, but on average it's about six years," Brackett said, pointing to a high percentage of part-time students. More than 70 percent of Hancock students — like Iturbide — are classified as part-time.

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"Students can certainly transfer in two years," said Brackett, referring to Hancock's Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) program. Implemented five years ago, the initiative guarantees community college students who graduate with an ADT a spot at a California State University.

"Those degrees are planned that way, [but really] it comes down to a lot of things," she added. "Our transfer students are very dedicated. They're not just coming to campus to go to class, but they also have scheduled in study and work time."

As Iturbide awaits his decision from UC Davis and looks forward to next month's graduation, he hopes the memorandum will improve the transfer probability for future students.

"This agreement will be an advantage for students," he said. "You're going to feel more confident when you apply knowing you're going to get into at least one school."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.