How to get out of here in two years or less

Johnny Wilson

With a total of 322 degrees and certificates offered at Saddleback, 98 at Irvine Valley College, and a campus-to-campus combined student population of over 40,000– students may quickly find themselves lost or confused as to how they will obtain their educational goals.

Thankfully, both IVC and Saddleback offer support services to assist students in their quest of academia.

Although some may already use these services, many students at IVC and Saddleback College remain unaware of the many tools available which can help them reach their goal of transferring in a timely manner.

First, students at Saddleback College are encouraged to create an “Academic Plan” upon completing matriculation. This academic plan, completed online in an interactive program, includes developing a full list of courses which the student will need to take before transferring.

As of now, completion of this is merely a good suggestion– it is not required. However, according to Saddleback generals counselor Pam Barr, starting in 2014 students will be required to complete this plan within their first year of attending.

Speaking of counselors, students at IVC and Saddleback shouldn’t think twice about meeting with a school counselor at least once every semester. This is especially necessary during a student’s first semester.

“In my opinion, the students who are able to progress and transfer are the ones who take advantage of counseling,” Barr said.

During a one on one meeting with his/her counselor a student can cover all of the following: where to transfer, what classes to take in order to transfer to that school, and also if he/she is currently on the right track to reaching that goal.

Interested in transferring to a University of California campus? Be sure to mention the word “TAG” to your counselor. This program, known as the Transfer Admission Guarantee, does just what it says: guarantees a student admission to a campus of his/her choice as long as he/she completes the program’s specified courses with sufficient grades.

To assist students in the tough decisions involved with transferring, both Saddleback and IVC hold transfer fairs on campus throughout the school year. IVC holds two transfer fairs every fall semester– a crucial time for transfer students who are submitting their four-year applications.

Events like this give students a chance to gain firsthand knowledge about potential schools of choice– Cal States, UC’s, private schools, and even out-of-state colleges. Typically each college will hold a booth with one or two representatives trained in answering crucial student questions.

Speaking on these fairs, IVC Transfer Center specialist Derek Zara said, “It’s a good networking tool to get to know these [college] representatives.”

On the other side of the spectrum, students who are in danger of making themselves ineligible to transfer are under a close watch, especially at Saddleback.

A new program at Saddleback, known as the “No F’s” program, focuses on students in their first semester of academic probation. A student will be placed on academic probation if he/she is taking a total of 12 or more units and earns a final grade point average lower than 2.0 that semester.

The No F’s program then takes affect that following semester. For example, if a student earns less than a 2.0 GPA in the fall, the program for him/her will take effect that spring.

What does the program do exactly? No F’s forces probation students to do one of two things before being able to register for classes again: 1) sign up for and attend a scheduled probation workshop, or 2) meet with a counselor.

Once either of these is done, students are then free to register for courses and re-take any class he/she failed previously (course repetitions are limited to 3 times per student).

An important note for students who are re-taking classes: one’s GPA will NOT automatically be adjusted at the end of the semester to accommodate the new/improved grade. To finalize the new grade for official approval, students must fill out a Transcript Repeat Notation.

According to this form, “the original substandard grade must remain on the transcript: however, it will not be included in the GPA.”

Whether a student is in danger of flunking out or ready to make the next step toward transferring, IVC and Saddleback offer extensive support services every step of the way.