Thursday, August 29, 2013

Completion of English 122 and Critical Thinking for Fall 2014 Transfer

     Several students have come to me in the past two weeks who are anxious about their English classes. These students are not taking ENGL-122 this semester, but plan on transferring next Fall to a CSU or UC. CSU and UC upper-division transfer requirements state that both of those classes MUST be completed by the end of Spring 2014 in order to be eligible for transfer in the Fall. If students fail to complete those classes by the end of Spring 2014, they are not eligible to transfer. Summer 2014 classes may NOT be used to fulfill the English and Critical Thinking requirement, nor any other admissions requirement, for that matter.
     If you are a new student for Fall 2013, heed my words: It is VERY important that you complete your English classes as soon as possible before transferring. In fact, many UCs will not accept a student who is completing English or Critical Thinking during the Spring semester before Fall transfer. Therefore, if you are not taking English classes this semester, I STRONGLY advise you to enroll in appropriate English classes next semester and continue taking English classes each semester until you complete Critical Thinking. Otherwise, you might have to extend your studies or delay your transfer by one whole year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Post-workshop Q&A, August 13, 2013

          Thanks to all of the great students who attended today’s academic workshop for new students immediately following the immigration check-in session. Below are some of your questions and my answers. I have consolidated and paraphrased some of the questions, so read them carefully. Also, I received some questions that were clearly answered in the presentation and/or in the online new student orientation, so I have not included those questions. You know how to review the material if you need such basic information. Finally, I am not answering questions that are specific to your individual educational plan in this blog. You must have a counseling appointment to discuss such individualized questions.
          Before I address the questions, I want to say that I am very displeased with any new international student who has not enrolled in any classes yet. You have had the opportunity to enroll in classes for a long time now, and there is no excuse for you not to be enrolled in units. There are still many classes with open seats (more than 500 as of this afternoon, to be exact!), and since you must be enrolled in at least 12 units to maintain your immigration status, you must enroll in units. At this point you cannot be particular about which classes you take. If you want to remain in the US and in status, you must enroll.

Q. How can I learn more about the assessment process?
A. Review the presentation at and visit the Assessment Center website to learn more about assessment: Assessments are given throughout the year.

Q. When are we supposed to have books by?
A. As soon as possible, otherwise you might fall behind in the readings and assignments for the class. See the Book Center website for more details and to order books:

Q. Is it possible to transfer from DVC to an Ivy League or other prestigious university?
A. Anything is possible, but in all honesty, it is highly unlikely that a DVC student will gain admission as a transfer student to an Ivy League university. My advice: apply anyway, but have a Plan B…and a Plan C, and possibly a Plan D, as well.

Q. Do I need a TOEFL and/or SAT score to transfer to a CSU or UC?
A. For UCs, as long as your English 122 and Critical Thinking grades are each B or better, you do not need to submit a TOEFL score. If you make a C in one of those classes, you might need a TOEFL for some of the UCs. See or contact the admissions office of the UC campuses you are interested in attending for details.
          The CSUs have varying policies. In any case, if you study full-time in the US for three or more years, you do not have to submit a TOEFL. Contact the admissions office of the CSU campuses you are interested in attending for details.
          Neither the CSUs nor the UCs require SAT of transfer applicants.

Q. Are there any scholarships for international students?
A. International students can apply for scholarships that are not need-based (i.e. awarded based on your financial need) because you had to prove you had enough money for your studies at DVC in order to get your I-20. There is one scholarship specifically for international students at DVC. Contact the Scholarship office for details:

Q. I have credits from a previous college. How do I know how they will be accepted?
A. This question was addressed in a previous blog post. Please see posts from August 5-8 and August 12 for the answer.

Q. How many courses must I take to be eligible to enroll in ENGL-122?
A. That depends on which level you start. Read the course description for ENGL-122 in the DVC Catalog and see the prerequisite information, then read the course descriptions for those courses and read their prerequisite information. Doing so will help you determine how many courses you might need to take before you can enroll in ENGL-122.

Q. How do I know how many Math classes, if any, I need to take for my major?
A. If you want to transfer to a CSU or UC campus, look up the articulation agreement between DVC and the CSU or UC campus’s major on, and you will know how many Math classes you need to take. If your major does not require any Math, then you will need only one transferable Math class to meet admissions requirements.

Q. What is the maximum number of units I can enroll in each semester?
A. Students in their first semester at DVC can enroll in a maximum of 19 units. Thereafter you can request permission to enroll in more than 19 units. See my previous posts for my thoughts on enrolling in excessive units. It is not a wise thing to do academically.

Q. Where is the ISAS? What do they do? Where is the Counseling Center? What do they do?
A. The International Student Admissions and Services office (ISAS) is located on the second floor of the Student Services Center, and the Counseling Center is on the same floor but at the opposite end of the building.
          The ISAS responds to concerns about immigration status, working on and off campus, health insurances, housing, and other non-academic issues. The Counseling Center provides academic, career, and personal counseling. See a counselor to identify an academic goal, understand the requirements for achieving your goal, know how to identify appropriate classes for meeting those requirements, and accessing resources available for your academic success.
          The ISAS sees students on a drop-in basis only. The Counseling Center sees students primarily by appointment. Book early; sometimes you must wait 2-3 weeks for your appointment. Come with a list of your questions so the time (30 minutes maximum) can be used well. Educate yourself using resources provided to you and do not waste the counselor’s time asking questions that are clearly addressed in those resources.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Post-workshop Q&A, August 12, 2013

          Thanks to all of the great students who attended today’s academic workshop after the immigration check-in session. Below are some questions you had and my answers.

Q. Can I use a Math assessment result to clear a Math prerequisite for any course?
A. Yes, appropriate assessment scores will clear Math prerequisites for any class, not just a Math class. Read course descriptions very carefully, and you will see they often say “…or equivalent.” That means an appropriate assessment score can be used in lieu of a Math class. Your assessment scores are uploaded to the student information system, so the system will recognize that you are qualified for any class that has a Math or English prerequisite when you attempt to enroll in it. If you do not qualify, the system will block you from enrolling.

Q. How do I know which classes to take for my major? What if DVC does not offer a class I need for my major?
A. Use to know which DVC classes to take for any major in the CSU or UC system. If you want to transfer to a private or out-of-state university, you will have to speak to a representative with that university to know which DVC classes you should take. The Assist website does not include private and out-of-state universities, and DVC counselors are unable to tell you how DVC classes transfer to private and out-of-state universities. If you need a class that DVC does not offer, you can apply anyway. CSUs and UCs understand that not all community colleges offer all the same classes they do. Just take as many as you can in order to strengthen your transfer application.

Q. Can I transfer to a private or out-of-state university? Can I transfer to Stanford? Can I re-apply if I fail to get admitted the first time?
A. Many DVC international students transfer to private and out-of-state universities each year. However, it is not possible for students to know EXACTLY how their DVC units will transfer to such universities in the same way that they can know how DVC units transfer to CSUs and UCs. My advice is for students to follow the requirements for a similar UC program (for example, if you want to transfer to the University of Texas in Austin and major in Business Administration, follow the requirements for UC Berkeley’s Business major). Most majors at most universities have similar course requirements.
          Regarding Stanford, you need to realize that Stanford accepts only about 40 transfer students per year from thousands of transfer applicants, so the likelihood of being accepted at Stanford is EXTREMELY low. You should always have a Plan B if Stanford is your goal. DVC does not have an academic relationship with Stanford, so DVC counselors are unable to help you create a clear plan for transfer with that goal in mind.
          In most cases, an SAT score is not required for transfer to a university. Some exceptions may exist, though, so always look at the school’s website for details about transfer admission requirements.
          In many cases, it might be possible to transfer to a private or out-of-state university in less than two years. In the case of CSU or UC transfer, in most cases it takes AT LEAST two years, sometimes longer, to complete transfer admission requirements at DVC.
          If you fail to get admitted the first time, you may apply again, but you will have to wait one year until the next admission cycle. My advice is that if you do not get into your “dream” school, settle for your second or third choice school, finish your bachelor’s degree as soon as you can, then apply to your “dream” school for a master’s degree.
          For more information on applying to the CSU system, visit, and for information on applying to the UC system, go to

Q. What does “lower division” and “upper division” mean?
A. Lower division refers to anything at the freshman (1st year) and sophomore (2nd year) level. DVC, being a community college, only teaches lower-division courses, or those courses typically taken in the 1st and 2nd years of university. The CSUs and UCs apply a maximum of 70 lower-division units toward a bachelor’s degree. Upper division refers to anything at the junior (3rd year) and senior (4th year) level. Upper division courses are typically taken by juniors and seniors at a university. They are more advanced than lower division courses. DVC does not offer upper division courses. You will take all of those after you transfer.
          You must have a minimum of 60 transferable units to be considered a junior when you transfer. Most students will have no difficulty in accruing enough units while at DVC because of meeting admissions and major preparation requirements if studying a “high unit” major (i.e. a major that requires a lot of classes). If, however, you do not have enough units to reach 60, then you take elective classes, which are transferable classes you choose for yourself just so you’ll have enough units.

Q. Do I have to take the assessment tests before classes begin, or can I wait until after school begins? Can I use O-level scores to clear assessments?
A. You may take the assessment tests whenever you are ready. Just remember that you cannot enroll in any Math classes, any classes with Math prerequisites, or English 122 without an appropriate assessment score on file.
          O-level scores might be used in determining Math placement. Submit official copies of your O-level score reports to the DVC Admissions and Records office for evaluation. O-level scores are not used in English assessment.
          If you want to take a college-level Math class, you must either score appropriately on the Math assessment test, complete the required prerequisite course(s), or submit official documentation proving that you have completed equivalent coursework or demonstrated mastery of the Math content through examination.
          You cannot get into a course that has prerequisites, including assessment requirements, unless you have met the prerequisite, no matter how badly you may need to take the course. This is determined by California state law, and DVC follows that law very closely because our continued accreditation depends on it. Such practices ensure that we are able to continue to offer the high quality of coursework that our reputation is built upon.

Q. How do I know which courses are transferable? What is IGETC? How do I know which classes to take?
A. I’m not going to address these questions because the online new international student orientation and the workshop you attended today all address those questions. If you need to review the online orientation, visit and select “DVC New International Student Orientation.” And today’s workshop slides are available at in “New International Students Academic Workshop.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Post-workshop Q&A, August 8, 2013

          Thanks to all of the great students who attended today’s academic workshop following the immigration check-in session. Here are some questions and answers submitted by some of you students:

Q. Is it possible for my friend and me to switch classes if we are taking the same subject but different sections?
A. Absolutely NOT! That is illegal by California education code because you are misrepresenting yourselves. If you and your friend want to switch sections, you must each drop and then add the appropriate section numbers. There is no other way.

Q. How can I get permission to enroll in more than 19 units in a Fall or Spring semester, or more than 12 units in a Summer term?
A. First of all, if this is your first semester at DVC, you CANNOT enroll in more than 19 units, no exceptions. Second, you need to be very, very careful about enrolling in more than the maximum units allowed. College coursework is very intensive and much more challenging than high school coursework. Remember, you will spend one hour for every unit you are enrolled in classes, and then you should expect 2 or 3 hours per unit outside of class for preparation and homework. For example, if you enroll in 22 units, you will spend 22 hours per week in class, then you will spend another 44 to 66 hours per week on preparation for those classes. That’s 66 to 88 hours per week just on classwork! You still have to eat, sleep, bathe, get to and from school, and relax.
          However, if you insist on trying to enroll in more than the maximum allowed, you can request online through the Counseling Center website. The request goes to the Dean of Enrollment Management for evaluation. If your grades are low, or you have a history of dropping classes, the Dean will not grant your request, no matter the circumstances.

Q. Can I transfer to a UC campus, especially UC Berkeley, with less than 60 units?
A. No. The UC  system does not accept lower division transfers. Even if you have 59.5 units, they will deny your application. You need to have AT LEAST 60 units.

Q. I want to transfer to an out-of-state university. How do I know which classes to take?
A. DVC does not have academic relationships with out-of-state universities. You need to contact a representative of the university you want to transfer to and discuss what types of courses you need to take at DVC. No one at DVC can tell you how an out-of-state university will accept your DVC units; we can only advise you about transfer to a CSU or UC campus.

Q. Can I take courses that are not required for my major, especially during my first semester (because I have to enroll in at least 12 units)?
A. Of course you can! You can take anything you want as long as you meet any prerequisites for that course. Here’s my advice: Choose a course that is UC-transferable, and better yet, choose a course that will meet any IGETC requirement. That way, you are taking a course that is transferable probably to any university anywhere, and if you choose a major that will accept IGETC for general education, then you will be completing coursework toward that requirement. You are here to learn, so as long as you learn something from the class, it is valuable to you.

Q. When can I register for classes, and do I have to come on August 16?
A. If you completed the online orientation and received feedback from me about your choice of classes, then the ISAS office was notified that you completed the orientation. If you successfully enrolled in any units, then you have access to Web Advisor, obviously. If you are unable to enroll in additional classes, there might be another issue. Visit the Welcome Center’s Enrollment Lab, on the first floor of the Student Services Building, for assistance, or see someone in the ISAS office, on the second floor of that building.
          If you have no Friday classes, then you do not need to come to DVC on Friday, August 16. Just come to campus on the day of your first class and go to class.

Q. Can I take courses for transfer and earn an associate’s degree at the same time?
A. Of course you can! It’s easy to complete requirements for an associate’s degree and for transfer. Remember, you can use CSU-GE or IGETC for the associate’s degree general education requirement, and many DVC majors align with major preparation for many CSU programs and a few UC programs. See the DVC Catalog or website for details about associate’s degree requirements, and for information about the major you want to study at the CSU or UC campus.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Post-workshop Q&A, August 7, 2013

          Thanks to all of the great students who attended today’s academic workshop for new international students. Below are your questions that you submitted at the end of the workshop.

Q. Which math courses are appropriate for Business majors?
A. Choosing appropriate math courses for Business majors depends on two things: (1) which math class you placed into per math assessment, and (2) which university you plan on transferring to. If you placed into MATH-192 per assessment, that course will satisfy the Calculus I requirement for any Business program. If you plan on applying to the Economics or Business Economics major at UCLA, then definitely take the 192-193 sequence because that’s the only sequence those programs accept. However, if you are NOT planning on applying to either of those majors at UCLA, or for Business Administration at UC Irvine, then the Business Calculus, or MATH-182 and -183, sequence is fine. If the major also requires statistics, then either MATH-142 or BUS-240 is acceptable. If you placed into MATH-192 in assessment, that also qualifies you for either of those statistics classes. I recommend MATH-142 as it might be the most broadly applicable class (i.e. it might transfer more easily to a private or out-of-state university).

Q. Is IGETC transferable to USC?
A. The University of Southern California is a private university. DVC does not have an academic relationship with them. However, they do accept many courses from California community colleges. USC has its own general education system that is different from IGETC. If your primary goal is to transfer to USC, my advice is that you read the USC website thoroughly and contact an admissions representative at USC for more details and for assistance.
          See more about IGETC in the August 5 blog post.

Q. Can I study one major at DVC and a different major at a university after I transfer?
A. That depends on the rules of the university you want to transfer to. For UC and CSU transfer, it is best that you prepare for the CSU/UC major while you study at DVC to increase your chances of getting admitted. However, if your DVC major and transfer major are similar enough, you might be able to study both (e.g. Psychology and Sociology are similar, but Biology and Psychology are not). Consider perhaps studying one of your interests areas as a minor after you transfer. A minor is like a major, but it doesn’t require as many classes. To get a degree you must have a major, but minors are optional. DVC counselors cannot help you know what classes to take for a minor because the universities do not provide that information in the Assist website.

Q. I have coursework from a university (either in the US or another country). Can I use that coursework at DVC? How does that affect my transfer to a UC?
 A. First of all, read the post from August 5 and see if the question about foreign coursework answers your question. If not, then read on:
          You can use foreign or domestic coursework to fulfill some requirements at DVC. If the coursework is foreign, you must get a private agency evaluation of your foreign units. Visit and choose an agency that you can afford. Request a detailed, course-by-course analysis of your coursework. If your coursework is from a US university, ask that university to send an official transcript to DVC. Once your transcript/agency report is submitted to DVC, you can request an evaluation in the Counseling Center, and when you later come to the counseling appointment, the counselor can help you understand how your units can be used at DVC.
          If you want to transfer to a university, only a representative of that university can tell you how your foreign or domestic coursework might transfer to their university. CSU and UC representatives visit DVC often to meet with students. See the Transfer Center website for more details: Often the only way you can get an evaluation is if you apply to that university and submit official copies of your transcripts, then the university will evaluate your coursework (transcript evaluations are costly and time-consuming, so universities do not do them for free).
          You must, by law, report ALL prior college-level coursework when you apply to a university, whether that coursework is from the US or another country. Failure to do so can have severe negative consequences on your studies in the US.