By Brenda Saldana and Guadalupe Castro, Special to the Star
Community College students around the state are now being offered an AA-T degree that guarantees priority registration and automatic junior standing in departments such as communication studies, journalism, art and sciences.
The AA-T degree stands for Associate in Arts for Transfer and it is a new program that benefits students in community colleges and facilitates the transferring process to any CSUs on a priority level. The degree consists of 60 transferable units that includes general-ed classes, major-preparation classes and electives.
Valley College, along with other community colleges, have acknowledged the amount of time that it is taking students to complete the necessary transferrable units. Some reports say that is taking students six to seven years to finish their bachelor’s when it should only take four to five years. The AA-T degree establishes the classes that must be taken for priority acceptance at CSUs.
“This was a conception by the state legislature, it was not something that schools could determine,” said Anne Gee a career/transfer counselor at Valley. “They wanted to provide more access for students and a guarantee for students to get out at specified time, as opposed to get there and being held to only certain requirements in order to qualify for graduation.”
California Community Colleges have formed priority schedules for transfer associate degree students that are eligible. Students are first asked to submit their “petition to graduate” with an Associate of Arts/ Science Degree for Transfer at the community college the student is attending.
The community college will provide applicants with an official document that will indicate remaining requirements for the AA-T or AS-T degrees. A copy of the evaluation form must then be sent by the transfer applicant to each of the CSUs to which the student has applied. A final transcript that will show the completion of the Associate of Arts/ Science Degree will be sent by the student to the admissions office of the university of their choice.
Although the AAT degree is not yet available for every major, it emphasizes it is available in the art, history, psychology, science and journalism departments.
“I’m glad to hear about this program especially if it means graduating in less time,” said Valley student Joshua Benavides. “I am an art major and I will definitely consider talking to my counselor about this degree and if it best suits me.”
Campus officials said the AA-T degree is not for every student. The benefits that are offered may vary from department to department. The AA-T degree does require additional coursework to meet the lower-division requirements or to prepare the student for transfer.
“I am not sure, but I think it depends on what your situation is. I don’t think it helps much, but it might be nice to have it to get a sense of accomplishment,” said LAVC professor.
Students seeking the AA-T should consult their community college advisor for more information on available degrees and the CSU campuses that offer their major.