Among the oversights and disappointments of last week’s bill signing extravaganza is a glimmer of hope for higher education in California.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1440, which guarantees California State University (CSU) admission to all California Community College (CCC) graduates.
The goal is to increase the accessibility of four-year universities to those who may not otherwise continue past community college. It removes the dangling carrot of potential admission that plagues so many CCC students today and provides a guaranteed reward.
Though this is not the first law of its kind, it is the strongest yet. The Donahoe Higher Education Act, passed in 1960, allowed CCC to issue associates degrees and required the University of California, CSU and CCC to work together to increase the number of transfer students from community colleges.
The passing of SB 1440 is an important step in further promoting education and graduation in California, but we must be wary of the possible implications.
This law will increase CSU attendance on campuses that are already impacted. Additionally, expanding the applicant pool will create increased competition for those who wish to attend a CSU as a first-year.
Increased competition means higher standards for acceptance. This could potentially act as a disincentive to non-transfer applicants, as it may become easier to attend a CSU as a transfer than as a first-year. Legislators should take pains to ensure that this law, and those to follow, doesn’t discourage students from attending a four-year university out of high school.
To maintain the integrity of the admission process, community colleges must keep up their end of the bargain. To blindly hand out transfer admissions benefits no one. The bar must be raised in community colleges to ensure success and fairness to all students.