Community college is a wonderful opportunity to learn some skills that will translate to your university experience. You get the chance to learn time management skills, academic planning skills, and research skills in a comfortable, low-pressure environment. But there are definitely some resources you will want to know about as early as possible so you can get the most out of your community college experience and be well-equipped to succeed once you transfer!
It’s important to understand the way the different requirements work to ensure you can transfer successfully and save the most money on your education.
When preparing for community college and transferring, there are two major academic planning resources available online to help you organize your transfer and general education requirements. General education requirements are the classes every student has to take to graduate from university overall, and these are taken at community college to cut down the price of your total undergraduate degree. UCs and CSUs have slightly different requirements, but within each system the requirements are generally the same. Meanwhile, transfer requirements vary by each university and major. So, the transfer requirements at UCLA may be quite different from those at UCSC, or between Cal Poly and CSUF. Below are 2 websites that help you with just that:
Assist is a reliable resource detailing which classes you must take—or can take as electives—to fulfill transfer requirements. Assist lays out the articulation agreements between your community college and California UCs and CSUs. However, Assist uses articulation agreements from prior years, so when you are planning courses to work for one or several schools, you must check each school’s transfer requirements on their websites to ensure that nothing major is changing for your application year. If you don’t check, it could cost you extra money and even your potential to transfer!
How to use Assist:
Once you are on the main website, the “Transfer Information” box will appear. Simply input your community college in the “Institution” box and a university you would like to check an agreement with in the “Agreements with Other Institutions” box.
The webpage displayed here will then appear; input the major you are interested in transferring into in the “View Agreement by” box, ensuring it sorts by major.
A PDF agreement will show up for you to view. You can also download it to print it out.
The courses on the left reflect the course equivalencies at the university (UCI used for this example), while the courses on the right are the community college courses that articulate.
Where “No Course Articulated” is written, you will have to complete that course at the university after transferring. It is normal to have to complete some lower-division courses after transferring, but try to complete as many courses as you can at a community college before transferring (this is also a good reason to check other community colleges that may offer the courses you need!)
The page will also show you where many courses can fulfill a requirement (generally to fulfill elective requirements). This will make it easier for you to tailor a schedule that will work for you and make progress towards transferring!
While Assist is important for figuring out the transfer requirements for your major, the IGETC is important for checking general education requirements. That is, these courses are the general education courses you would be taking during the first year of two of university, so the IGETC can (and should) be completed before transferring so you won’t have to fulfill any of the general education requirements at the university.
Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be taking any lower-division courses at your university; remember that you may have to complete lower division courses for your major if your community college does not offer necessary courses for your major. However, completing the IGETC makes the transition to a university easier, cheaper, and much less confusing!
How it works:
Each area represents a different subject group that must be fulfilled by graduation. Some areas can be fulfilled by high school education (e.g. taking enough foreign language in high school, taking APs to fulfill English/math).
The IGETC document for your community college will list all the courses you can take to fulfill a specific requirement. You want to search for/request the document from your specific community college, as the document is tailored to each community college’s courses.
Note that although the right column says “Choose one”, in some cases you will be actually choosing two. For example, in the Arts and Humanities section (Area 3), you have to take 3 courses, ensuring you take at least one from the Arts group and at least one from the Humanities group. For the third class, you can take one from either the Arts or Humanities group, depending on your interest and schedule availability.
Your desired/chosen university’s transfer center:
If you already know what school you want to/will attend, checking out their online transfer center is a great place to find information about transfer requirements, resources for transfer students, and more. You can also use this as an opportunity to research which universities might be most helpful for you.
UCLA's Transfer Center has timelines and other resources that can help you not only plan to transfer, but also formulate a plan for after you transfer. They have information about the quarter system, internship and research timelines, and even graduate school timelines that can be used as a resource at any UC. Check it out!