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The Transfer Effect


By Wendy Soderburg '82

Published Oct 1, 2007 8:00 AM

What does it take to get into UCLA two or three years after high school?

Getting into UCLA as a freshman is daunting, to put it mildly. After all, the university receives more freshman applications than any other U.S. institution — 50,744 in November 2006 — and the average GPA of the incoming class is an incredible 4.30.

The competition among transfer students, however, is just as fierce. Transfer students face a different, but equally difficult, road to admission at UCLA, but once here, they often excel.

While incoming freshmen are judged on a combination of high school academic performance, test scores and extracurricular activities, transfer students must demonstrate stellar academic performance at the community college or school from which they are transferring. They must prove that they have junior standing and have done all the preparatory work for their majors. Their typical GPA? An impressive 3.57.

"UCLA has always been the most successful of the UC campuses in using the transfer function," says Thomas E. Lifka, assistant vice chancellor of UCLA's Student Academic Services. "Approximately 38 to 40 percent of the undergraduates receiving degrees at UCLA come to us as transfer students. Berkeley is somewhere in the high-20-percentile range, and all the other UC campuses are lower than that."

With 110 community colleges in California, there's plenty of demand, particularly in the Southern California area. "We're working hard in a variety of ways so that the students we ultimately bring in to UCLA are highly competitive and are graduating at virtually the same rates as native freshmen," Lifka adds.

Kate Jakway Kelly '95, student affairs officer and senior admissions counselor in UCLA's Department of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools, says she and her colleagues recruit transfer students by disseminating information about UCLA at college fairs and by visiting "feeder" schools in Southern California.

UCLA's Center for Community College Partnerships works with the California community colleges to strengthen their curricula and improve students' academic competitiveness for admission to UCLA, while the Transfer Alliance Program gives students priority consideration for admission to the College of Letters and Science after they complete the honors/scholars programs at their community colleges. UCLA's Academic Advancement Program offers a six-week summer program for students — particularly those who are low-income or disadvantaged — in courses that meet UCLA requirements for graduation.

Jose Angel Manaiza, a transfer student from Los Angeles Southwest College, has served as a tutor and resident assistant and received a 2007 Chancellor's Service Award for leadership and community service. After graduating next June, he plans to obtain a J.D./M.B.A.

"As a 10-year-old soccer player growing up in Honduras, I always dreamed of someday becoming a student at UCLA," Manaiza says. "The university of my dreams."