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Jeanette Martinez, AA-T in sociology, going to CSU Fullerton

The power of social media may have changed Jeanette Martinez’ life.

Martinez, 23, graduated from Cerritos College in Norwalk this spring with an Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) degree in sociology and will continue her studies at California State University, Fullerton, this fall. But had it not been for a colorful logo on the Cerritos College Transfer Center’s Facebook page, the Montebello resident might not have learned about the innovative transfer pathway. She could have spent more time and money taking classes that didn’t get her any closer to transferring.

Martinez wouldn’t have been alone. 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.

“I knew I was close to being ready to transfer but when I saw the logo and then read the post I was really curious to learn more,” said Martinez, who was a campus ambassador her last year at Cerritos College and talked with hundreds of high school students interested in enrolling at her alma mater. “I followed up by going to the transfer center and learned not only could I graduate with the AA-T degree but it would help get me into Cal State Fullerton.”

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. 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. And with many of the CSU campuses only accepting students with these special transfer diplomas this spring due to budget cuts, working toward this goal has never been more important.

Martinez said the one-tenth of a grade point boost she received from the CSU Fullerton admissions center as an AA-T degree holder helped get her into the university. “Without it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten in,” said Martinez, the first in her family to attend college.

Students in non-science fields under the Associate Degree for Transfer banner are eligible to receive a .1 GPA boost in order to help them qualify for admission to a CSU that has a major designated as similar to the one that they earned a degree in from their respective community college. Some Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degrees carry a .2 GPA boost.

“I got lucky,” said Martinez, who used the California College Promise Grant (Formerly known as the  Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver) and other financial aid instruments to afford community college and will use financial aid at CSU Fullerton. “Fullerton has a strong program with a lot of great, new instructors and some friends of mine already go there and say they love it.”