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Kylie Martinez, AA-T in Communications Studies, accepted to CSU Fullerton in the fall

Had money not been so tight, Kylie Martinez’s life may have been much different.

The 21-year-old from Duarte wanted to go to a prestigious private university but the costs were prohibitive. So Martinez, then an aspiring teacher, decided to attend Mt. San Antonio College instead. Fast forward three years: Martinez changed her major to communications studies, won a gold medal in a national forensics competition and is the proud holder of an Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) degree that will help her reach her higher education goals.

“One of my communications studies professors was talking about the new Associate Degree for Transfer program last year so I checked into it,” said Martinez, who is enrolled for the fall semester at California State University, Fullerton. “I learned that I had enough credits to graduate with an AA-T and that having that degree would help me get into a CSU.”

The California Community Colleges and the California State University system have a new program that simplifies the transfer process for community college students wanting to continue their education at the California State University. For the first time in California history, community college students who complete an associate degree designated for transfer are guaranteed admission to the California State University system with junior status and will be given priority consideration when applying to a California State University campus and to a particular program that is designated as similar to the student’s community college major.

Research shows that approximately 50,000 students annually transfer to a state university with an average of 80 semester units when only 60 are needed. 

Martinez said she wasn’t even sure about waiting to graduate before trying to transfer to the best school for her major. But, once she was told she had the units and enough of the right classes to graduate with the special Associate Degree for Transfer diploma, she said it was an easy decision to stay and earn the degree that would enhance her chances of transferring to CSU campuses throughout the state since they are so impacted. She said she wants to put an emphasis on public relations while at CSU Fullerton and then pursue a career in the fashion or entertainment industries.

“I’m so glad my communications professors were so supportive and pushed the (Associate Degree for Transfer) program,” Martinez said. “It made all the difference. I want to go on and get a master’s degree so I can come back and teach at a community college.”