Every semester is a new beginning — but for some students it may be the final step in a journey to Orange Coast College graduation.

For students who plan to continue their education at a Cal State in the spring, now is the time to submit a Graduation Petition for Associate in Transfer Degree (ADT), officials said.

Transfer experts warn that missing the deadline can not only delay a student’s educational plan, it can also represent the loss of major benefits offered by the state.

In an effort to improve transfer rates, the state in 2010 mandated the creation of streamlined associate degree programs that guarantee students entrance to a CSU campus with junior standing.

For students who petition for graduation and meet other requirements, the program offers substantial perks, like guaranteed admission into the CSU system, priority consideration when applying to a particular CSU program that is similar to the student’s community college major, and a .10 boost to their GPA, officials said.

Despite these bonuses, many students miss the necessary step of submitting the graduation petition, they added.

“The number one reason I hear from students on why they did not apply for their associates degree for transfer is because they hear ‘apply for graduation’ and assume that means that when they’re applying for graduation they’re applying to participate in the commencement ceremony, which is a separate thing,” said Jared Vidal, a counselor at the OCC Transfer Center.

Participation in the OCC commencement ceremony, which occurs annually in the spring, is entirely optional for graduates, he said.

Additionally, Vidal said that some students incorrectly assume that by simply completing coursework requirements, they are automatically awarded an associates degree. But to get the ADT, as with any degree, students must complete specific requirements and apply.

In the first four years of the ADT program, 80 percent of those who earned their ADT made the jump to a CSU, however that rate is trending down, officials said.

Time is also a critical factor in student success. A study that tracked students 2010 through 2015 found that those who did not transfer within a year of earning their ADT were significantly less likely to make the transition to university.

Campus officials recommended students visit the OCC Transfer Center or attend a workshops for information on ADT requirements, and be sure to submit petitions for fall 2019 graduation by Nov. 1.

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