Get Ready, Set Transfer: 14 Proactive Transfer Readiness Tips

transfer highwayGet Ready, Set Transfer: 14 Proactive Transfer Readiness Tips

Here are 14 tips to help you

Get ready to transfer,

Set to succeed in community,

and then prepare to Go to a four year university.


1. Apply now to a community college.

  • The free online applications are ready now. You must apply to each one unless the school is part of a network such as Los Angeles Community Colleges. you still have to apply to each one individually.
  • Save your ID number so you can register for classes and arrange for your placement tests.
  • Seniors, you can also enroll in the summer following graduation, for free. You are still considered a high school student.
  • AB540 students can enroll and now qualify for fee waivers if they are low-income.

2. Take your placement tests now.

  • Some community colleges still require you to take English and Math placement tests. Each community college has an assessment and placement center.
  • The tests are free but your performance on the tests affects the rest of your community college and higher education life.
  • Some campuses ask you to make an appointment; others let you walk in.
  • You need forms of identification. AB540 students can use school ids.
  • Do some practice tests. Here is a link to some practice tests:

3. Apply for Financial Aid.

  • Financial aid is available for community college. You must fill of the FAFSA. If you have questions, go to the financial aid office of your community college.
  • There are also scholarships so you will need to go to financial aid office.

4. Develop a two to three year transfer plan now!!!

Preparing to transfer is not easy. You have two levels of requirements to fulfill:

  • lower division General Education (GE) requirements and
  • lower-level requirements for your major (intended area of focus).

If you know you want to go only to a CSU, then you can fulfill the CSU requirements; the same goes for the UCs, except Berkeley has some extra requirements. USC and other private colleges have their own transfer requirements. So do not waste time on courses that do not count.

GE requirements: The safest route for fulfilling GE requirements is IGETC, which is a set of transfers courses that both the UCs and CSUs accept. IGETC is broken into five categories and must be completed at community colleges. Each campus has approved courses that fulfill the IGETC requirements. If you switch community college, do not worry as your IGETC courses can be completed at different campuses.

Major requirements: The way to fulfill major requirements is to check with each campus to which you plan to apply. Be smart in choosing your major.

  1. The UCs have some helpful sites:
  2. Here is a comparative major list for the UCs. You choose your major and it shows you the courses required at all campuses.
  3. This site shows your which UCs have particular majors and links you to requirements for that major for each UC campus with it.

 Use free online guides. There are some great online sites to guide you and help you keep track of your transfer progress. They are all free.

    1. is the best site in all in California as provides transfer requirements for all public colleges in California. It helps students at all 109 California community colleges. Use its planning resources as well.  It explains the different ways you can transfer and shows you what major courses you must take to qualify for your major at a UC and CSU. Plug in your community college and your desired CSU or UC and it will get you the courses you need for your major.
    2. is a great tool to help students at Pasadena City College. Check to see if you community college has this kind of online tool to help track your progress.
    3. helps you explore private colleges in CA. It will help you

5. Apply to Special Programs.

Community colleges are big places and can be hard to navigate. Find a small program to join and you can get more direction and guidance.

  1. a.     For students with 3.0 and higher GPAs: Honors, Scholars, and Fast Track programs.

In May and June of your senior year, you can apply for programs that will guarantee your ability to transfer if you meet all of their requirements. For example, Santa Monica College has its Scholars Program. Pierce College has its Honors Program and Fast Track Transfer Plan. East LA has its scholars program. These students require applications and often guarantee transfer rights to top college. You may need to write some essays. Do this!!

  1. b.     For students who are first generation students and who need more academic supports.

Programs for first generation and other under-represented students. Find programs on campus to support you.

Latino students-Puente is a nation-wide program designed to help low-income Latino Students.

African American, Asian, Armenian, and other students need to look for specific programs on individual campuses. Pasadena City College, for example, has ROPE, CLAVE, and CAP. Do a search for students and programs. They are easy to find.

Find programs that support first generation and other under-represented students. These programs help you transition into community college and get the academic support you need. For example, Santa Monica has a summer bridge program. Rio Hondo, for example, has a program for single parents: CARE.  ELAC has its Adelante Program to help first generation students succeed during their first year at college (

Seek out EOP, and other special programs on each school’s website.

  1. c.      For all students interested in transferring as quickly as possible.

Many community colleges offer TAG programs that provide you guaranteed transfers to certain UC or CSU campuses if you fulfill core academic requirements. THE UCS have TAG programs for seven campuses. Go see a counselor to explore these programs.

  1. d.     For students with special interests.

Want to be a teacher or a firefighter or a law enforcement officer. Have a sport or instrument you play well. Community colleges have all kinds of programs to help you prepare for special fields. Do a search of programs available at your local campuses or even campuses a little further from your house. These programs require separate applications and some entry requirements, such as fitness tests.


6. See a community college counselor every semester.transfer center

These counselors will help you make a plan to get through community college. Again, never enroll in a class that doesn’t count towards transferring to a four year college or completing your remediation in math or English. That means, for example, if you have to take a remedial math class, that doesn’t mean you can’t take classes that fulfill your major requirements or other IGETC courses.

7. Keep grades up and make sure you have enough units.

The UCs and CSUs require you take a minimum of 60 semester (90 quarter) units with no more than 14 semester (21 quarter) units pass fail. Remember, as in high school, Ds and Fs don’t count and lower your GPA. Incompletes turn into Fs if you don’t finish within a year. You must also have at least a 2.4 GPA but competitive campuses want much higher GPAs given these tough times. Make sure you complete your IGETC requirements. Make sure you complete all classes and replace all low grades.

8. Keep track of your transcripts and requirements for each college to transfer. 

You will need to keep track of your transcripts and ensure that all courses and grades are correct.
You will need to keep track of your completion of all coursers for transfer. Learn how to send your transcripts to different colleges.

9. Take classes all year long and consider dual enrollment at two community colleges. 

Be proactive and take classes all year round. This will help you get ahead in units and not have to take more than four classes per semester.


10. Get involved in activities, service, and work.

The UCs and private colleges view your first year of community college as the equivalent to your junior year in high school. If you have a job- great as that shows responsibility and maturity. Get involved in activities on campus, including cultural organizations, sports, and government. Do some mentoring or work with young people TA at your high school. Be active. Try to show how you are connected to your major through your activities, service, and work.

11. Start researching colleges and their deadlines. Attend College Fairs. 

Know application deadlines. Keep a master chart of deadlines and requirements. You will need to apply for transfer starting the fall of your second year of community college. Some colleges allow you transfer during spring. The UCs and CSUs only allow fall transfers. Their applications are due November 30.

Here is a site with links to most the UC, CSU, Common Application, USC, and other private colleges in California. The Common Application includes private colleges all around the country.

college transfer fair

Also make sure you go to college fairs and college information sessions. Your community college will host colleges, there are college fairs in your area and online, and colleges host students, often on Transfer Tuesdays. Meet with admissions reps and make a plan to get to know the colleges to which you are applying.

12. Research scholarships.

There are hundreds of scholarships out there for undocumented students; it is just a matter of taking the initiative and stay on the lookout for them. Here are some help sites where you may begin to look for scholarships, including scholarships that AB540 students can apply for. 

  1. FinAid!: Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students:
  2. Maldef’s General Scholarships:
  3. Latino College Dollars
  4. FastWeb:
  5. USC’s advice for AB540 students:
  6. Liberty Hill’s lists great scholarships all the time:
  7. Hispanic Scholarship Fund:
  8. Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund
  9. Armenian Student Association.
  10. for all kinds of scholarships links for different groups.

13. Prepare Great Applications

You must put together strong applications. The UCs and all private colleges have essays. They typically include one essay about your intended major and how you’ve been preparing for it in and out of school. They also ask you to write a long essay about who you are—you can write about your life, your activities, your jobs. Tell great stories. Email me for my 10 tips for writing great college essays ( or find them on my website Make sure you send in all required materials.

14. Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid.

You must apply for financial aid and Cal Grants. There is significant financial aid for transfer students. Again, you must apply the winter and spring of the year.