ucla transfer student community college

How to transfer to a UC from community college: Your Ultimate Guide

College acceptance season while you’re in high school when you don’t know where you’re headed is never fun. You look around and your classmates are going to universities you go can never imagine getting accepted to or you simply don’t know if college is an option you should be focusing on. You don’t want to go into debt but you want to get an education, you want to work full-time but need to take classes on a flexible schedule. If you’re like me when I was in high school, you’re facing lots of frustrations and confusion without a clear guidance of to where to go. However, I will say that once I learned how to transfer from community college to UCLA, things began to be less confusing and doors starting to open. In fact, many students have felt the same way, as the number of CCC transfer students attending UC increased by about 25 percent over the last decade.

Here are the steps you need to take if you want to do the same!

When you begin community college

You will take a placement test called the Accuplacer. First thing you need to make sure is that you do well on this exam to take college level Math and English classes. They have many books available with practice problems available online.

Once you

1) Test into the level of Math & English you need
2) You find the major you want to pursue
3) Know the school you want to transfer to check assist.org

Assist.org will be your best friend during your transfer process. It will help you know all the courses you need if you want to transfer to a UC from a community college.

Once you figure out the courses you need, it’s all about connecting the dots.


By the end of SPRING term before you transfer
Even if you have 59.5 units before transferring your offer WILL GET RESCINDED.

-Two transferable courses in English composition/critical thinking and writing.
– One transferable math course that has a prerequisite of intermediate algebra or higher.
– Four transferable college courses in at least two of the following subject areas: arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, physical and biological sciences.
+ the major prep that Assist. Org tells you need for the major you want to pursue.

They base the classes you need to take on the agreements that your community college has done with each UC and Cal State. 



(IGETC) is a series of courses that California community college students can complete satisfying freshman/sophomore level general education requirements before transferring to most colleges and majors at UC campuses.


Do I need to finish IGETC prior to transferring?

No you don’t, HOWEVER if you don’t you will NEED TO COMPLETE them after you transfer so it’s advisable that you have it completed so you do not have to finish freshman/sophomore classes as a junior.

Do I need an associates degree to transfer?

NO YOU DO NOT, YOU CAN TRANSFER TO A UC WITHOUT FINISHING AN ASSOCIATES DEGREE, However, I’ve found that that if you follow IGETC + Major Prep, you’ll most likely finish one without realizing

It. What happened to me). If that’s the case, always check with your counselor to see which one you’ll be most likely to complete because if you’re doing everything you likely will finish one.

Do I need to finish my major prep before I turn in my application?

You DO NOT need to have all of your major prep completed before transferring. However, depending on the campus you’re applying to and major, it is STRONGLY recommended sometimes. For example, Economics at UCLA strongly recommends that you do. Because it is such an impacted major and highly competitive for admissions. However, it may not be such a big deal for other majors.

Should I do IGETC/GE first or the major courses?

Always focus on your Major Courses first, it’s best to have your major prep finish on your application vs IGETC. IGETC is not mandatory for admission.

Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG)

Transfer Admission Guarantee. You are guaranteed admission to your chosen UC if you follow the TAG rules for that campus. The application window is the month of September and six campuses offer it:
Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz

What are the requirements of TAG?

 General qualifications:

1. You need to have completed 30 semester/45 quarter transferable units from any college/university by the summer before your fall TAG application. Most allow AP to be included, but check!
2. You must have completed a minimum of 60/90 transferable units by last spring term.
3. A total of 30 semester /45 quarter transferable units must be from a CCC by the final spring term
4. Your last regular year (fall/spring or fall/winter/spring) may only be at a CCC, although you can choose more than one CCC. So don’t add a CSU, etc.
5. Both English courses and quantitative math need to be completed by the fall when you apply for TAG (although at least one UC wants them done by the previous summer or you won’t qualify)
6. Any Ds after you sign up for TAG will disqualify you.
7. There are additional rules by campus, such as a higher GPA to qualify for the campus TAG, a higher minimum GPA just for certain majors, majors excluded from TAG, and minimum grades needed for very specific courses

TAP Programs

There are two TAP programs and both are different.

UCLA’s TAP is honors-based and you need to fulfill a certain number of honors courses at the CCC. This program gives applicant priority and claims about an 80% admit rate. You may also pick an alternate major in L&S.

Berkeley’s TAP program does not offer priority and is not honors-based. It is a support program. You must be one of these: minority, low-income, or first generation college student. If you fit that profile, and if your CCC is part of the program, ask your advisor when the Cal TAP rep will be coming to your campus so you can sign up. Link:

Do I need to do honors?

You DO NOT need to be in honors to get into UCLA. I’ve known people who didn’t get into UCLA and did honors, and I know people who didn’t take a single honors class and still got in (Including me). DO NOT stress yourself out over having honors completed. The only real benefit that honors has is with UCLA because you are able to apply to an alternative major. 

Poor grades and Ws

  1. Best approach is to repeat or try to get Academic Renewal.
    You can repeat a course from another college at your CCC if it’s an obvious match. The good news is poor grades from years ago are discounted to a large extent if the UC sees a strong upward trend. If you had special circumstances where you did bad in a class, there is space in the UC app to explain it.

    Major GPA vs Overall GPA.

    If you have an okay Overall GPA but you have a Good Major GPA, it may help you. 
  2. Withdrawals are not a problem. Don’t stress yourself out. I had one. You should always explain in your application the reasons for it. Unless you have multiple ones scattered all over, it’s not really a problem.


What does it mean if a school or major is “impacted”?
It means there’s a high number of applicants and it’s considered more competitive than other majors. You can check which majors are more highly selective than others in these links.

Is there a limit to the number of units transferable to the UC?
As community college students, you can take as many classes you want within the community college system and are able to transfer without a unit cap. HOWEVER, keep in mind that once you transfer only 70 semester units will be transferred. If you want to transfer from a 4 year university, there is a unit cap.

Current semester unit ceilings by campus:
—Berkeley, UCSD, UCSB, UCSC, UCI, UCR: 90
—Davis and Merced: 80
—UCLA: 86.5

Being over may or may not prevent you from gaining entry. Some UCs are more lenient than others. Reach out to the UC you’re interested in.

Can a student take classes for P/NP (Pass/No Pass, or previously Credit/No Credit [CR/NC]) instead of a letter grade?

Yes, a student may take up to 14 semester units on a pass/no pass basis instead of for a letter grade. Do not, however, take any coursework required for major preparation as P/NP–these classes must be taken for a letter grade. However, COVID had changed these requirements for a set timeline so check with the UCs on this for a more recent update. 

General Application Timeline & Tips

September: You want to TAG into a UC.
November: General UC application due.
January: Update your grades. (If you don’t do this, they will not consider your application)
You will be directed to go online to the Transfer Academic Update page (TAU) and enter your fall grades. You will also re-enter your upcoming terms and note any changes from the November application.
June 1st: you MUST submit your SIR to your college.

Tips to know before transferring:

American History Requirement
This is one thing that I did not know, UCs require you to do a course on American History. You can satisfy this requirement with an AP exam or by receiving a “B” or higher from your American History course in high school. If you have neither, I recommend you to finish it at your cc prior to transferring.

Double Majoring:
It is possible, however, you only apply to ONE major when you’re doing the application. Check to see which major you want to do and if it’s possible to double major once you transfer. Make sure you have BOTH prereqs done at cc so it becomes easier to double major once you transfer. There are specific majors that are highly selective and it may be best to apply to that major and to declare a double major on the not so highly selective one once you transfer.

It may help you transfer faster.


The UC is a holistic application. Meaning GPA isn’t everything, some things may carry more weight than others.

Special talents, achievements and awards in a particular field,
-visual and performing arts,
-athletic endeavors
-special skills
-special interests,
-experiences that show unusual promise for leadership (such as community service, student government)
Activities beyond academics/ community
-Leadership in Family
-Jobs – If your job is the only thing you have as extracurriculars IT’S OKAY. Just make sure you emphasize your roles in the family or how much weight your job took time out of your life outside of academics.

Do I need to report all colleges attended?
Yes. The UCs have access to the National Student Clearing notes all schools attended. If they find out you left a college out, you will not be admitted or will get rescinded. 

How does the UC handle gaps?
Yes, admissions want to know why. It is not a big issue, but it needs to be explained. It’s a standard follow-up if you have gaps.

I got poor grades at another college; do I have to tell the school I am applying to? Yes, you’re equired to report all previous institutions that you have attended. If it was from way back, UCs usually like it when they see an upward trend.

How many extracurriculars should I put?

Do not put over 2-3 organizations/activities that you’re involved in or even over 1. Choose the ones you’re most passionate about. Make sure that the hours you log in your activities make sense. MEANING do not overdo it on the activities.

There is space in the application that gives you a chance to explain anything you want, such as a poor grade, a gap in your school or anything else.

Tips on Personal Insight Questions

This is the ONE thing I want to emphasize on. Your personal insights questions are specific to WHAT YOU WANT TO SHARE with the admissions officer. The reason for saying this is because I had a peer mentor who read my essays for feedback and discouraged me what I FELT was important to share. I would not ask over 2-3 people to go over your essays for feedback. I had my mom and a UCLA admission officer go over mine, and it was more than enough. Your insight questions share who you are as a person and how do your experiences make you unique versus the other applicants.

DO NOT write a comprehensive essay to the questions. This is something that an admissions officer shared with me. They are reading hundreds and thousands of essays daily. THE best advice is to write your responses as an easy read for them. The BEST advice is to restate the question in your answer.

If you are applying to multiple UC campuses under multiple majors, make sure that for the first question write something that could fit into all the majors as an overall preparation.

Whichever questions you choose to write DO NOT matter, so the ones that best fit your circumstances

After Acceptance

What if I get accepted, then drop a class or get a D?

Each admitted student gets a unique Provisional Contract. Your rules will be spelled out in it. Some will say, if you get two Cs or one D contact us ASAP; another might specifically note an overall GPA that must be maintained for that final term; another might include a minimum grade needed for a course. A letter grade of D will likely get you rescinded, and if you are dropping a required course that usually also spells bad news. Contact UC admissions right away to try and work it out. They do often give options (such as taking a dropped course in summer), but the longer you wait the less accommodating they will be.

Can I change my major after I transferred? (UCLA specific)

I applied as a Geography major and could switch to International Development Studies (which is considered an impacted major). It depends on the department, but it is possible to do so. 

General Question for Me:

How did you finish high school with a 2.8 GPA and made it to UCLA?

A lot of my high school experience was a lack of motivation because I didn’t know what I wanted. When I had a set goal of where I wanted to go, I cared more about my grades. I never went to class in high school, so I started going to class more and becoming friends with my professors at cc. I also feel like building a community with my college helped a lot (kinda hard right now BC of covid) but I had a go-to counselor who I was checking in with asking if I had all of my requirements done to transfer. I didn’t necessarily killed myself studying, I began doing everything with love and care because I wanted to have the best education possible and knowing it was my best. My attitude was a significant factor.

How was the transition?
I fell flat on myself my first quarter at UCLA. My first midterm I got an F. I was super stressed. I reached out to my professor whose class I was failing and explained that I was a new transfer and was still getting used to the transition. I then began going to multiple office hours with all of my professors. I bounced back from that F and barely passed the class with a C. However, I got As in my other 2 classes. My next quarter I enrolled in 4 classes and it was an epic fail again. I had to drop one of my classes mid quarter because I was going to fail it because of having to work 30-40 hours a week. I excelled in those 3 classes, though 4 was too much for me. Everything went by extremely after. It became second nature to me and adjusted pretty easily how it did in community college. I’m about to graduate and have never felt more welcomed at this institution and have nothing but bruin pride.

Anything you wish you knew?
Absolutely to become friends in your classes. This was the #1 reason why I almost failed the class my first quarter. I could’ve even reached out to the professor, who was more than welcoming. Also, to not be so hard on yourself, transferring is a huge transition and keeping as calm as possible makes it easier. It’s nothing we haven’t done before.

Overall, I loved my experience at community college. I absolutely loved it. I would recommend it to anyone. I saved SO much money and had time to work in a field I was interested in.

ATTACHED ARE MY APPLICATION ESSAYS. (¾ I couldn’t find the 4th one)

My GPA was 3.8

My major is Geography. Thanks to the fact that I obtained a real estate license and completed an internship at Keller Williams, I was able to understand and learn the value of the land according to its geographical space and how housing prices affect the economy in general. By getting practical experience through this internship, I was able to understand the basic concept of geography and its importance throughout the world, concepts that I could then apply in the classroom through my geography courses. My preparation to succeed in my higher division courses has already been demonstrated by completing the CCCP Site + program, where I obtained a scholarship to spend the summer at UCLA and take a higher division course with a final grade of A in condensed time of 6 weeks. Therefore, I already have an idea of what to expect once I enroll in the university.

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

 A contribution that I have made for my school that I am proud of and has made it a better place is to have taken part in our inaugural Cross Country team. In an effort to expand our school’s athletic program, I have worked with great effort and dedication to make history by representing my school in meets throughout Southern California. These efforts included 8 months(Monday-Thursday) of 5am practices that resulted in me having to wake up at 4 am due to my hour-long commute to my school, while also spending my Fridays/Saturdays in competitions. This has had an important impact since my efforts paid off, our Cross Country team has become the first sport in our school’s athletic history to reach the postseason regionals. We are all proud of the recognition and thanks to the reputation that has been established more girls want to join our team to prepare and participate in the coming years. Overall, the most important message was the spread of the importance of exercise that has been passed as our team created a 5k event at our school that our fellow classmates and community can join in and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Although I only get to participate in the first one, I’m excited to leave this legacy at my school as it now to become a tradition to host it every year.

Describe the most important challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? 

The most important challenge I have faced is moving to the United States because of the persecution that my family and I have suffered because of the political-social crisis that crosses my country Venezuela. Venezuela is a socialist country with high rates of violation of human rights, crime, hyperinflation, lack of food, medicines, among others. I had to leave because my life was in danger, I did not agree with the government policies, in which resulted in persecution without limit, harassment and threats that were received, my life and that of my family were at risk .I came to this country requesting a political asylum and it is the first step I took to try to overcome the challenge, but as my immigration case is still pending and I have left my country of origin without any documentation that proves that I am a Venezuelan citizen I am in a migratory limbo that limits me but that I hope has a good outcome. I had to work and study at the same time to pay for my studies because I have not received or probably received financial aid assistance due to my immigration status, I clarify that I have been able to pay for my studies with great effort. My studies are focused in the field of geography that studies the world and the way in which humans from other cultures interact but despite not being able to experience it myself I am willing to work and graduate in this field regardless of the work that costs me.

Attached is my essay that got me into my major (International Development Studies from Geography)

The most impactful event I’ve faced that has been a great influence to dedicate myself to the IDS major is moving to the US because of the persecution that my family and I have suffered. This is a result of the political-social crisis that is going in my home country Venezuela. We had no choice but to flee to save our lives due to our disagreements with the government. I came to this country as a political asylum seeker, however, my case is still pending. As I grew up in the US, I had the opportunity to think about the multiple situations I faced with my family, it later became essential for me to learn not only about the situation in my country and why it happened but for many other countries facing similar situations. The classes that I’ve had the opportunity to study this quarter have been more than valuable and essential to the growth of my knowledge of what’s happening in the world and why. Overall, I feel like I have an immense passion for traveling and learning the history of every country and why they came to be whether it’s political, economic or cultural and how different they are from each other. Although I’m not able to travel due to my immigration status, which is upsetting, I feel like the IDS major will fulfill my passion. Though I’m not able to see the places I’m learning about physically until I get my citizenship (7+ years) I can learn and research about them. I genuinely enjoy going to class every day, making my time at UCLA more than valuable and fulfilling for my own professional and personal growth. The variety of information I wish to obtain is only provided by the interdisciplinary major IDS.

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