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Paola Rios, AA-T in psychology, looking to transfer to CSU Fullerton

There was no future in those dead-end, minimum wage jobs that Paola Rios held while raising her young family. She knew that to reach her goal of becoming a counselor to special-needs children she would have to get a college education.

Starting in 2006, Rios, 37, took one class at a time, sometimes at night, and is two classes away from completing her Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) degree in psychology. She’ll take the two psychology courses over the summer, she said, and then apply to California State University, Fullerton for the spring 2013 semester.

“I took a full load this past semester so I’m so close,”said Rios, the first person in her family to attend college. “My kids are proud of me and I’m proud of myself. But this is just the start.”

Saddleback counselor Orlantha “Orly” Nin told Rios about the Associate Degree for Transfer program and the benefits of transferring with an AA-T rather than taking her chances with the usual transcript frenzy with thousands of others that are sent to a university’s admissions center. Plus, due to budget cuts, CSU Fullerton is one of just 10 CSUs to accept new students for the spring 2013 semester, and only those with Associate Degrees for Transfer diplomas.

The Associate Degree for Transfer program will provide Rios with priority admission consideration and she won’t have to repeat any courses she’s already completed at Saddleback College. The transfer program streamlines the process that had been confusing to some when they attempted to move on to a CSU. Some state universities would accept competed courses from a student’s major and some might not, requiring the student to take the course at the CSU. That took time and money but that can’t happen now as long as the community college student stays within the Associate Degree for Transfer plan.

“Orly told me that there was some great news about this new program that gives us an advantage to transferring to a CSU,” Rios said. “I told her, ‘Whatever it takes; let’s do this.’ “This transfer program opens the window and since it’s so competitive to get into a university now because of all the budget cuts, having an AA-T will help me reach my goal. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’ll take advantage of it.”