Introduction to the Fast Track to Universities in CA, USA Program (March 2015)

I. Types of universities in the USA

Universities in the USA are comprised of community colleges, liberal arts colleges and universities. They award associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorial degrees.


II. The higher education system in CA

A. This system is comprised of community colleges, California Universities, California State Universities and private colleges/universities.


B. Located in the Pacific coast at the west of the USA, the State of California is one with the most powerful higher education system, consisting of publicly funded higher education institutions (including 112 community colleges, 10 Universities of California and 23 California State Universities) and more than 200 private colleges and universities. Among the top 100 universities in the world, 43 of them come from the USA, and 15 of them from California, a number unrivaled by any other state. Both UC Berkley and UCLA are among top 10 universities worldwide. About 30% of the undergraduates at the various campuses of Universities of California are transferred students, 92-94% of them from community colleges at CA.


C. Ranking of Universities of California (Cited from the latest ranking in 2014 by US News and World Report)

UC Berkley is ranked No. 3 in the USA and No. 20 worldwide;

UCLA is ranked No. 8 in the USA and No. 23 worldwide;

UC San Diego is ranked No. 18 in the USA and No. 37 worldwide;

UC Santa Barbara is ranked No. 28 in the USA and No. 40 worldwide;

UC Davis is ranked No. 37 in the USA and No. 38 worldwide;

UC Santa Cruz is ranked No. 63 in the USA and No. 85 worldwide;

UC Irvine is ranked No. 66 in the USA and No. 42 worldwide;

UC Riverside is ranked No. 127 in the USA and No. 113 worldwide


As a comparison, Peking University and Tsinghua University of Beijing China are ranked No. 39 and No. 67 respectively in the world.


There are two types of transfer arrangement between a community college and a University of California to be transferred to. One is TAG, Transfer Admissions Guarantee and the other is TAP, Transfer Admissions Priorities, the latter requires that the transferee has a minimum GPA (grade point average) of 3.2.


The state law of California (SB 1440) stipulates that graduates of community colleges of CA can be transferred unconditionally to the state universities of California (23 in total, with a minimum GPA of 2.2)


D. Introduction to the College of the Canyons

The College of the Canyons is a publicly-funded, two-year and multi-disciplinary community college in the USA. Founded in 1969, the college is located at Santa Clarita of the large LA area, CA, one of the 25 safest cities in America. The school has a beautiful environment and up-to-date hardware facilities, equipped with 50 computer labs and training centers within the campus. Moreover, the College of the Canyons has signed Transfer Admissions Guarantees with both the top-tier universities in the state of California and the state universities of California, whereby 99% of its international graduates are transferred to these four-year universities upon graduation.


E. Introduction to community colleges

1. Community colleges, or two-year universities, are universities funded by the state governments in the US that provide the basic higher education of the first two years. Community colleges play a major role in the US higher education as nearly half of US undergraduates choose to study at these colleges.


2. Community colleges are characterized by low tuition fees, small-class teaching and all the courses taught by professors rather than teaching assistants. After two years’ study, students from these colleges may continue their study for two more years by being transferred directly to four-year universities, which include both ordinary ones and top-tier universities like UCLA. The community colleges in USA are therefore a new start to great universities.


3. Former US president Bill Clinton once remarked that “community colleges are the best.” And celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and two founders of Apple Co. were members of community colleges in California.


III. An introduction to the Fast Track to Universities in CA program

Senior high students who will graduate soon take part in the English language test, and upon enrollment through selection and receiving senior high graduation diploma will enter the College of the Canyons for two years’ study of the basic courses of US universities. After successful completion of the courses and receiving graduation diploma from the College of the Canyons and the degree of associate bachelor of US, they will be transferred to study at one of the universities in California, and upon graduation receiving its diploma of graduation and bachelor degree of USA.


Advantages of the program:

A. Guarantee of transfer

The College of the Canyons has entered into agreements on guaranteed transfers of students with Universities of California and the State Universities of California whereby 99% of international students can be transferred to these top-tier universities for further study. Among the students transferred to UC Berkeley (ranked No. 3 worldwide) and UCLA (ranked No. 8 worldwide), 94% and 92% are from community colleges at California respectively. For those who dream to enroll into these top-tier universities, the best way to go is to choose a community college for their first two years’ study.


B. Low tuition fees

The College of the Canyons charges much lower tuition fees than do four-year universities either public or private. On average, universities in California charge an annual tuition fee of about $37,000; as a comparison, that charged by the College of the Canyons is only $5,400, which means RMB 400,000 is saved in two years.


C. No TOEFL or IELTS score required

Community colleges generally provide specialized ESL training so no TOEFL or IELTS scores are required in application. Upon registration, students can enroll in ESL training center for language study. In contrast to test-oriented courses offered here in China, the ESL courses offered by community colleges prepare students for their future study in USA by focusing on academic English training. After passing the English test organized by the Colleges of the Canyons at the test center at Anqing Foreign Language School, students may be exempt from the requirements of TOEFL scores and ESL trainings and formally register for university courses.


D. Focus on study

Classes in community colleges generally do not exceed 30 students, which means attention of teachers can be paid to each and every student, and as compared to those at comprehensive universities, students at community colleges have more opportunities to interact with both teachers and other students, which is favorable for the development of these students. All the professors at community colleges are full time at teaching, so there are no classes taught by graduate teaching assistants as common at comprehensive universities. In addition, courses offered by community colleges are mainly characterized by general knowledge education, with professors’ work focusing on teaching and helping every student to succeed rather than their own research.


E. Convenience in application

In the case of four-year universities, application should begin 9 to 12 months ahead of enrollment, while for community colleges all the procedurals of application, visa issuance and enrollment can generally be completed in 3 to 5 months before enrollment in September or January. Much time can therefore be saved.


F. Comprehensive caring

During the two years’ study at the College of the Canyons, teachers from both the college and Anqing Foreign Language School will track the students’ study and life all through. What’s more, Service Center for International Students will provide these student with such services as information on living and help for questions, planning and guidance of study, extracurricular consulting and guidance for transfer and foreign students club, aimed at helping them adapt to university life faster and better, and be transferred to their ideal universities.