Though undergraduate enrollment has decreased nationwide, UC Davis has seen a surge in applications and in applicant diversity, according to the grant
The American Association of Community Colleges Equity Transfer Initiative awarded UC Davis and Sacramento City College (SCC) a two-year, $27,500 grant to “increase transfer rates among African American, Hispanic, and first-gen students.”
UC Davis and SCC are one of only two teams in California to be chosen for the grant, which requires that at least 100 students be placed on the transfer student trajectories outlined in the initiative by the end of the first year. Three hundred or more students are required to be on these pathways by the end of the grant’s second year.
In the U.S. at large, undergraduate enrollment—which includes transfer student enrollment—decreased this year, possibly due to the challenges students have experienced during COVID-19, suggested a CNBC article.
The article cited a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which noted that only 76% of American colleges had reported their enrollment-related data. Still, the study posited that community colleges were the hardest hit by the overall decline in applications.
The Equity Transfer Initiative grant comes amid a surge in freshman and transfer student applications for UC Davis during the pandemic: The undergraduate application rate for the university increased by 11.7% this year. The applications also revealed a significant increase in undergraduate applicant diversity at UC Davis.
There was a 20.6% increase in applications from African American students, an 11.8% increase from Chicano and Latinx applicants, a 22% increase from Pacific Islander applicants and a 7.9% increase from Native American applicants.
“[The grant provides] such an opportunity to support students who come from historically underrepresented communities,” said Hope Medina, the director of transfer and veteran services at UC Davis. “We’re creating a successful pathway for African American students, Hispanic students, Chicano and Latino students, first-generation students.”
Medina noted the struggles first-generation college students potentially face in “blazing that trail” and fighting for resources.
“This grant goes a long way towards taking that pressure off of students and providing that space and opportunity for them to learn together and find success together,” Medina said.
The grant will provide funding to improve transfer outcomes for these underrepresented students at SCC and UC Davis, according to Don Hunt, the associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at UC Davis.
“We are looking to increase the support services, communications, and engagement models to support students as soon as they enter community college,” Hunt said in an email.
These services could include providing students with access to counselors and transfer representatives while attending community college, rather than after they arrive at the university. The grant could also help SCC students learn about pathways to the UC system and may also aid in tracking their progress from the beginning of their community college experience onward.
“We are still in the planning stages, so there is a lot to be developed in terms of a specific plan,” Hunt said via email.
Medina highlighted the importance of building a community for students transferring to UC Davis, who have spoken about their difficulties in meetings with advisors and other officials at the Transfer and Reentry Center.
Lacking a four-year experience at the university, they may struggle to adjust to their new surroundings, according to Medina.
“Students who are here for only two years feel like they have to hit the ground running, and it’s hard for them to build community,” Medina said. “Creating small cohorts [of students] […] is very impactful to how they transition over and how comfortable they feel.”
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — firstname.lastname@example.org