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Transfer Summit Gives Community College Students Head Start in Navigating University Journey

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Community college transfer student Patricia Madrid earned an associate degree more than 30 years ago and is returning to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in human services at Cal State Fullerton.

Fellow incoming transfer student Christina Matias is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public health after serving in the U.S. Navy and working as a dental assistant.

To prepare for the transition to the university this fall and give them a head start, Madrid and Matias were among more than 60 students who participated in CSUF’s inaugural Transfer Summit.

“I wanted to learn about the resources available to transfer students like myself,” said Madrid, who chose CSUF because of its reputation and experienced human services faculty.

“Transitioning from a community college to a university can be a bit overwhelming, but this event provided me with valuable information and connections to ease this transition.”

After attending the summit, Matias said she better understands how the university operates and how to find resources.

“I know where to seek guidance if I ever run into any roadblocks in my journey at CSUF,” said Matias, who plans to pursue a doctorate and career at the university level. Her son, Riley, is also starting at CSUF as an incoming freshman and mechanical engineering major.

Community college transfer student Patricia Madrid

“I like the close-knit community the university offers,” Matias said. “What I hope to gain as a student here are the tools I need to succeed.” 

Students committed to attending the university this coming academic year — from the region’s community colleges, including Fullerton, Pasadena City and El Camino colleges — were invited to participate in the daylong summit.

Transfer Student Summit
Community college students from across the region attended the inaugural Transfer Summit.

The incoming students participated in workshops about scholarships and financial aid, received information about study abroad and peer mentorship programs, research and student employment opportunities, and navigated the student portal.

“For first-generation college students and other students from traditionally underrepresented communities, being connected to university resources early can help the transition process more easily,” said Yuying Tsong, associate vice president for student academic support.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to become familiar with the new school setting, faculty and staff, and resources and pathways to graduate programs and post-college employment.”

Tsong noted studies show that compared to students entering universities as freshmen, transfer students have elevated challenges. 

These struggles often include difficulty forming social connections, understanding and accessing campus resources such as tutoring and counseling services and dealing with curriculum requirements, grading systems or teaching styles. Transfer students also have a higher need for career counseling. 

For fall 2024, the university received 21,459 upper-division transfer student applications, a 4% increase from fall 2023. From that pool, 16,990 students were admitted. In fall 2023, 4,285 upper-division transfer students enrolled. Tsong said the number of transfer students this fall is expected to be similar to last fall.

The Fullerton ASPIRE: Access, Support, Pathways and Inclusive Resources for Everyone grant program, directed by Tsong, supported the summit. The $3 million award from the U.S. Department of Education aims to improve the graduation and retention rates of Latinx and other underserved students.

The Transfer Summit was a collaboration between the Office of Student Academic Support in the Division of Academic Affairs and the Transfer, Adult Re-Entry Parenting and Pregnant Student Center.

Debra Cano Ramos