Students transferring to Cal Poly Pomona from community colleges might not be totally new to the collegiate experience.
But navigating an unfamiliar campus, signing up for classes using web programs they haven’t seen before and connecting with the advisors they need to chart their course to graduation can be daunting.
PolyTransfer, a university-wide program that offers workshops and support services throughout the year, aims to make the transition easier.
The program, launched in 2014, assists students with navigating the campus and hosts transfer-specific events and activities – all to promote student success and co-curricular engagement.
“What we are trying to do here is to build a transfer-receptive culture,” said PolyTransfer coordinator Lorena Marquez.
Of the 7,500 newly enrolled students in fall 2019, more than 4,200 of them are transfers.
“In fall 2018, close to 50 percent of students enrolled were transfer students, and we had about another 440 in the spring,” Marquez said. “The year before that, 49 percent were transfer students. Admitting transfers continues to stay at an even pace.”
Besides the activities and support services, PolyTransfer includes a Student Success Ambassadors program, which includes current transfers serving as peer mentors and/or student leads. Participants in the leadership program guide to their fellow students and promote the university to prospective Broncos and their families. Also, the program trains peer mentors who assist transfers students with navigating the campus, provide advice, and participate in orientation and PolyTransfer events.
These are opportunities for student peer mentors and ambassadors can hone their leadership skills, Marquez said.
Transfer students can also receive scholarship support from two external foundations. Crankstart, a nonprofit that supports educational, health and social causes, has given $50,000 to CPP students. The Osher Foundation, which supports all 114 California community colleges, also has awarded a $500,000 endowment to Cal Poly Pomona for transfer student scholarships.
PolyTransfer has a summer program that recently celebrated its sixth year, as well as series of coffee chats with some of the university’s colleges that started in 2016, working with faculty and staff advisors, transfer graduation advisors (TGAs), ASI student senate leaders and deans.
“We are creating community,” she said. “People are able to actively listen to transfer students talk about their lived experiences and successes. That has been super impactful because we’ve been able to create that family. The decision makers are being put together with those they are making decisions for.”
For Joshua Lim, a senior studying electrical systems engineering technology, participating in PolyTransfer helped him forge a sense of belonging on campus. Lim transferred to from Mt. SAC in 2017.
“I was two classes away from my associate’s degree but decided to go forward,” he said. “During orientation, I walked around, and I felt ‘this is where I’m supposed to be.’ ”
The Walnut native participated in the PolyTransfer summer program and met Marquez in the fall of 2017.
“That’s when Lorena gave me the advice to find a place where you belong in school so you’re not just taking classes,” Lim said.
In his first year, he worked for PolyTransfer, helping with STEM Cubed, a program for Citrus College students interested in the STEM fields. His involvement in PolyTransfer also fueled his personal growth, as he was encouraged to attend a cross cultural retreat designed to promote diversity, social justice and alliances across cultures.
Lim also got involved with Rose Float. Last year, he served on the design team. This year, he is the president. Through PolyTransfer and Rose Float, Lim has gained leadership skills, he said.
“I have learned to work with others from different learning disciplines,” he said. “I am learning how to talk to people and teach them the right way.”
Alumna Starla Hampton (’19, hospitality management) worked in the PolyTransfer office when she was a student at Cal Poly Pomona, serving as a student ambassador and a mentor for other transfer students.
Hampton was a student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College when representatives from Cal Poly Pomona visited her school. A couple of months later, she toured the university.
“The tour was nice, but it didn’t take me to Collins College,” she said. “So, I took the shuttle up to Collins and got a private tour. Everybody was super nice. I said, ‘I’m going to apply.’”
Once a student here, the aspiring chef got involved in PolyTransfer and thanks to several scholarships, was able to find the financial stability she needed to earn her bachelor’s degree. She is now an intern in a program at the Anaheim Marriott that is preparing her to become a sous chef or executive chef.
The decision to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona has put Hampton on a clear path to her goal.
“It was the best decision I ever made in my life,” she said.