Thursday, March 08, 2012

My Monday Class

On Monday after my 11am class, I will be happy to speak to UCLA students about my views on undergraduate transfer students.    Here, I would like to preview my main points.  I will also be happy to answer any student questions.

In my six years at UCLA,  I have taught thousands of students and many of them have been transfer students.  Many of these students have excelled in my classes and I hope to attract excellent transfer students in the future.

A few days ago, I posted a quickly written blog post.  After re-reading my blog post, I realized that it was inappropriate and I wasn't proud of this entry.  In the past, I have re-written major parts of blog posts as my thinking has changed over time and as I have learned about a subject.   I revised my post and included an apology and posted it here.

If I could turn back time,  here is what I would say;

1.  I want UCLA to become an even stronger university which excels at teaching and research.

2.  Transfer students deserve to be at UCLA and are important members of the UCLA Community.

3.  If UCLA could raise more endowment money for financial aid, then I would want the transfer students to transfer in after 1 year at another institution so that they could have at least 3 years at UCLA.

The main point of my post was the importance of having our students be at UCLA longer (as close as possible to 4 years).

Here are two points that I believe but I recognize that these points could be false for some students at some colleges and in some fields of study.

p      Claim #1     The more time you spend at UCLA, the more connected you are to other students and faculty at  UCLA.

     Claim #2;        UCLA offers a better first two year education than Community Colleges.  I teach first year students.  We have excellent TAs in this class.  I take my teaching in the College very seriously.  I had assumed that UCLA offers an excellent education in the first two years that is better than nearby  Community Colleges.   If this point is false, then UCLA must work harder on improving its first two years of education.  If I am right, then we owe it to our transfer students to help them to transfer in as soon as possible to improve their undergraduate educational experience.  

I must add that I met with Dean Judi Smith today.  She taught me several things.  I now understand that there are several very strong community colleges in the LA area that specialize in teaching small classes and staff the classes with Professors who hold Ph.Ds from UCLA and that several of these have special tracks that students take to prepare to transfer to the UC.  This is great and I didn't know this.    That said, for the tuition we charge undergraduates, UCLA better offer an even better undergraduate experience.  So, note that this is a relative statement not an absolute statement about the quality of nearby community colleges.

Based on these two claims, I believe that UCLA's long run financial future would be strengthened by encouraging more of our transfer students to transfer in earlier and ideally to be 4 year students or at least 3 year full time students at UCLA.    

Regular readers of this blog know that I have blogged about my views on how to make UCLA a stronger university that has the financial resources to remain excellent.   To recap, my thinking;

1.  The Undergraduate population would be 60% California and 40% out of state students.  The out of state students would pay a tuition that is 20% below the Ivy League rate.   Under this formula, roughly tens of millions of extra revenue dollars would be collected and undergraduate financial aid could be greatly expanded.

2.  The UCLA in-state tuition would be set by the campus and wouldn't have to be the same rate as charged by other campuses such as UC Davis.  Similar to Harvard's financial aid formula, the tuition could be based on household income.

3. Major gifts such as the Luskin donation should be used for hiring faculty and improving Ph.D. financial packages so that we can improve undergraduate education.

4.  UCLA should have the same transfer student percentage as UC Berkeley.