Community College–a Stepping Stone to Greater Opportunities


Arshia Sista

Whereas freshmen acceptance rates to UCLA hover around 12 to 16 percent, members of IVC’s Transfer Alliance Program are accepted to UCLA at rates between 70 to 85 percent, according to the IVC website.

When telling family, teachers or peers that you will be attending a community college and then transferring, the all-too-familiar sympathetic comments follow: “You’ll save on tuition” and “You’ll live close to home.” But these people are rarely aware of the transfer pathways students can take after they leave community college.

Those opportunities are no more apparent at Irvine Valley College, which boasts the highest rate of students who transfer to four-year colleges and universities out of the 116 community colleges in California. Irvine Valley College’s Honors Program has transfer agreements with over 15 colleges and universities ranging from the University of Michigan to Pitzer College, meaning students who meet specified academic requirements are guaranteed admission to partner schools.

For students more interested in attending a University of California (UC) school, those who are a part of the UC Transfer Admission Guarantee program and meet the GPA requirements after two years at IVC will be guaranteed admission to the University of California, Davis, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Merced and Irvine. 

“I think my choice [in attending IVC] will benefit me because I actually have a better opportunity than I did before to get into schools specifically like [USC and UCLA],” senior Yonatan Akiva said. “There is a really negative stigma about the community college route because [Irvine is] such an academic city that makes you look lazy going to community college.” 

The belief that community college is a path taken by unambitious students is ultimately a misconception, as these colleges often provide robust support for their student bodies. Community colleges have implemented programs to provide students with financial relief and challenging coursework.

IVC’s Promise Program, for example, offers additional support to academically promising first-time college students, making it an attractive option for graduates. As members of the program, students receive enrollment fee waivers, $100 worth of bookstore vouchers and specialized counseling services.

“The college system revolves around rankings, numbers, statistics, scores, grades, GPA, all that, and there is a certain idea that community college is just for students that didn’t have the grades,” current IVC student and alumna Jaein Kim said. “There are students that do it because they couldn’t afford a four-year right now or people like me that wanted to step back and take a bit to pursue a greater opportunity.”

Kim, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall, pursued various activities outside of her studies. After graduating in 2021and traveling to Korea, she published “A Little Piece of Seoul,” a street photography photobook, and served as assistant cheer coach to the JV team. 

Staying close to home, like in Kim’s case, gives students a degree of familiarity with local opportunities available to them, according to counselor Nicole Epres.

“If someone’s staying local for community college it gives them that flexibility of just having more information,” Epres said. “They’re able to get a job quicker or be able to work and go to school.”