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Transferring from Community College: The Pacific Oaks Advantage

Transfer students have plenty of colleges to choose from, but Pacific Oaks’ unique ideology and one-of-a-kind transfer process puts it ahead of the competition.

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Pacific Oaks is a unique school in many ways, but perhaps nothing exemplifies the one-of-a-kind experience more than the transfer process. Every step of the way, from your application to your graduation day and beyond as an alum, Pacific Oaks is dedicated to helping transfer students succeed with an innovative process that empowers the student and recognizes their unique situation and talents.

Would-be students will immediately notice that Pacific Oaks’ transfer process is a little different from what they see at other schools. Dean of Students Michael Lopez-Patton explains that those differences are intentional. “Other schools typically have very strenuous requirements,” he says. “You have to complete your associate degree first. You have to have a really high GPA. We have a more personalized, liberal set of standards.”

Pacific Oaks’ undergraduate GPA requirement is 2.0—and though that might seem low comparatively, Lopez-Patton says that it’s for a very specific reason. “We’ve seen students who struggled to get through a community college where they’re in a sea of other students and they’re not getting the direct attention that they need,” he explains. “Then they come to Pacific Oaks, and we find very quickly that they’re actually very intelligent and capable; it was just that the way they’ve interacted with education in the past didn’t meet their needs. Their GPA wasn’t representative of their abilities.”

Another thing Pacific Oaks does differently: It doesn’t have a minimum number of transfer credits required for incoming students. “A student can transfer to us after their first semester if they want to,” Lopez-Patton says. “If community college is working for you financially, we would encourage you to finish your associate or your 60 credit hours there. But if you find that you’re struggling because of the standardized format of community college, then we encourage you to transfer now because Pacific Oaks will give you a different approach to learning. We want you to do what will work best for you.”

Transferring students may also be able to gain additional credits before they even begin classes: Pacific Oaks offers credits for life experience so that students who have gained knowledge in the real world don’t have to waste time and money on classes they don’t need. “We respect the fact that maybe you’ve worked in the field for many years. We don’t want you sitting in the class thinking, ‘I could be teaching this,’” Lopez-Patton explains.

While many other colleges and universities have Transfer Admission Guarantees, many of them only apply to specific degree options. “Our Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) agreement is broader than a lot of California schools. Our TAG agreements apply to all of our undergraduate degree programs, offering greater flexibility for students to choose the degree pathway that works best for them,” Lopez-Patton notes.

Once students start the transfer process, they’ll notice that the support offered every step of the way really makes Pacific Oaks College stand out. Each transfer student works with a team of advisers and counselors to navigate the application process, and that doesn’t change once the student starts taking classes. If you transfer to Pacific Oaks College, you will work with a dedicated enrollment counselor, academic adviser, and faculty adviser, as well as receiving personalized financial aid support. “Our financial aid counselors will help connect students with financing resources like outside scholarships. Students aren’t left on their own trying to figure this out. We are their advocate to help them understand all the resources available to them,” Lopez-Patton says.

Pacific Oaks offers flexible class times to cater to nontraditional students who might be looking for night and weekend classes, and the pedagogical approach is something every Pacific Oaks student will tell you is truly one-of-a-kind. “Your professor will present a theory to the class and discuss it, but then they’ll open the floor for students to speak about how they’ve seen that theory applied in their lives,” Lopez-Patton explains. “Because every student has a different background, history, culture, professional experience, and knowledge base, you’re going to see that theory in application in multiple ways. We find that our students relate personally to the theory so that they understand what that theory means in a much more comprehensive way than just memorizing verbiage from a textbook.”

Pacific Oaks has made many out-of-the-box decisions to create a unique school for unique students. By recognizing that every student wants, needs, and brings something different to their college education, the Pacific Oaks transfer process is a system that honors each student’s unique path.

“Our students may have had some college classes 15 years ago, or they could be fresh out of community college, but a transfer student is never going to feel out of place at Pacific Oaks,” Lopez-Patton says. “We recognize that not everyone is going to have the typical college experience, that not every incoming student just graduated from high school and their parents are paying their way. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but a lot of our students are putting themselves through school. A lot of them are first generation college-goers. They’re very capable, they’re talented, and they’ve got a lot to offer to society, but they don’t necessarily find a home at a more traditional college. Here at Pacific Oaks the transfer process is designed for those students.”


Interested in transferring to Pacific Oaks from a community college? Read our complete guide of resources:

The transfer application: where to begin

The benefits of transferring to a college with a TAG agreement

The people in your corner when transferring to Pacific Oaks

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