COVID-19 changes force some students to rethink transfer plans

Amid COVID-19 changes transfer students struggle to get information about how their academic plans will be affected while trying to get a hold of their counselors.

“It’s like a waiting game and that can be overwhelming sometimes,” Ariana Albarran, liberal studies major, said.

Albarran plans to transfer to CSU Dominguez Hills or CSU Long Beach by next fall and will be submitting her transfer application in October.

She says the only way of getting reliable transfer information is through her counselors, but despite being in a program with dedicated counselors, there are times she still struggles to meet with them.

“I’m really lucky that I’m in the PUENTE program at El Camino but there’s definitely been times that it’s hard to reach a counselor or to get a call back because there’s just so much information going into them on a daily basis,” Albarran said.

Albarran initially struggled with the shift to online learning but was able to adapt in the end. She was also glad to find out that her transfer plans wouldn’t be impacted by COVID-19 and she would be able to proceed as usual.

Still, Albarran wishes some type of transfer information would be made available to students outside of a counselor’s office.

“There’s so much information being dumped on us as students because everything’s changing around Covid that […] having it written out would be like, a better thing,” Albarran said.

Other ECC transfer student’s plans haven’t gone unaffected. Nicolas Green, psychology major, says he planned to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the fall 2020 semester but COVID-19 made him change those plans.

“It didn’t feel worth it to transfer from El Camino a year early to pay out of state money for a converted online school,” Green said.

Green said completing the application process again won’t be too difficult after having gone through it already but deciding to postpone his transfer plans isn’t what he was hoping for either.

Yarida Lopez, biology major, is another student who saw their transfer plans delayed.

Lopez planned to transfer to UCLA or NYU by next fall and says she doesn’t ‘have’ to delay her transfer, but she’s choosing to, citing problems with the classes she’s currently enrolled in.

“For my math classes it’s like you’re literally teaching yourself,” Lopez said.

Lopez is taking 14 units this semester, on top of working 30-35 hours per week, and says she has to be a full-time student in order to continue receiving FAFSA funds.

“I’m probably gonna end up cutting my [work] hours,” Lopez said.

On top of her busy schedule, Lopez says the amount of information she’s received regarding transfers hasn’t been more than a few emails about appointment dates.

“I just assume with anything that has to do with that stuff you have to find those resources yourself,” Lopez said.

But Lopez has found the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Program (MESA), which she recently joined, to be the most helpful resource for more information on the matter.

“They’re honestly super cool. I feel like they’re doing their best to help everyone they can,” Lopez said.

Left fighting for appointment times to meet with counselors, while understanding the counselors are overwhelmed as well, hasn’t been easy for students like Albarran intending to transfer.

“There should be like a big in-general thing that you send out to students because calling us individually is just wasting our time and putting a lot of pressure on […] the counselors,” Albarran said.

According to the Annual ECC Factbook,1,425 transfer Associate’s degrees were awarded to students during the 2018-19 academic year, an increase compared to previous years, but the 2020-21 transfer students have been left with doubts.

“I think the scariest thing about it is the not knowing,” Albarran said.

The Union attempted to contact ECC’s transfer center and emailed them two times for a comment, they did not respond. The Union also emailed ECC’s Transfer Center Coordinator, René Lozano, for an interview but he failed to respond in time.