It has never been a secret that universities worldwide are in favor of international students simply because of the revenue they bring in. Compared to in-state domestic students, international students pay at least triple the amount for their college tuition. Today, the efforts to enroll these students have intensified to another level. Recently, an article in the Burlington Free Press headlined, “University of Vermont hires firm to recruit more international students” highlights this new trend. So, what exactly does this imply for international students? More school choices? Absolutely! A higher chance of getting into their dream school? Not necessarily, especially if the students are attempting to transfer to top tier schools.
As a matter of fact, almost every community college student I am currently working with wants to transfer to one of the top UC’s majoring in Business or Economics. After evaluating their most recent transcripts, usually my first question to them is “why do you believe you are one of the best candidates for the program?” Most students show me their transcript again to make sure that I am aware of their straight A’s, while others simply emphasize that they have just finished English 1B and received an A as their final grade. Is that a good response? Rather, the question must be extended to “what are the top UC’s looking for in prospective community college students?” Is there a magical to-do list that we can simply follow for them to be led to the Sather Gate or Royce Hall?
All students attending California community colleges need to follow either the IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) Pattern or UC Campus-specific GE/Breadth Patterns to successfully transfer to the UC’s. Generally speaking, IGETC is a better option for students who want to transfer to UC’s with a major in something other than engineering, computer science, or pre-med, as these three majors usually have more challenging requirements. Most international students or ESL students have issues with IGETC Area One – the English requirement. Oftentimes, they cannot complete both English 1A and 1B, as requested by the UC’s, before submitting their transfer application. This is either due to them having to take additional ESL courses to meet the prerequisites to take English 1A, or because the student is simply trying to wait for the right time to take the course with the “right” professor. In the latter situation, the “right” time usually means taking the course with a professor who is highly rated on a website such as “Rate My Professors,” or the professor is recommended by “experienced” students who took the same course before and can attest to the professor giving “easy A’s.” However, students who fall in this category obviously neglect or overlook another issue: since transfer applicants (including students with ESL or international backgrounds) for UCs usually do not need to submit test scores such as SAT I or TOEFL, completion of college level English and math with solid grades before submitting their application is, therefore, even more crucial.
So, what is the best solution for students who need to take additional ESL classes but who still want to fulfill the English requirement as early as possible? Since each student is only allowed to take the English placement test once per year, the best solution is simply to properly prepare for the test. Students should look through sample tests and become familiar with the test format and typical test questions before actually taking the test. ESL students should understand the English Course Sequence being offered in their target schools and study for the appropriate level, which is one or two levels higher than the student’s current level. On the other hand, students who are initially able to take English 1A from the beginning of their community college studies should not wait for the alleged “easy-A-course,” which might turn out to be a totally subjective suggestion or unfortunately only offered after the application deadline.