Class of 2021: Students prepare for transition from college to university


Photo courtesy of Florencio Flores (L) and Jonathan Cardenas (R). College of the Desert students prepare to transfer as they bid COD a farewell.

College of the Desert students prepare to transfer from community college to four-year universities as they bid COD a farewell.

After spending two years at College of the Desert, soon-to-be transfer student Jonathan Cardenas decided to continue working towards his bachelor’s degree in media and cultural studies at the University of Riverside.

“I applied to five schools, and I’m fortunate to be accepted to continue my education at UCR,” said Cardenas.

Though he was happy with the school he chose, his final decision was based on the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, deciding on a campus that was closer in proximity to his hometown, in the case campuses would remain closed during the fall of 2021. 

“Not knowing whether in-person courses would resume in the fall, I decided on a campus nearby,” said Cardenas.

Despite the pandemic forcing many students to adapt to new learning environments, Cardenas said that COD has helped show him his potential over the past two years through encouragement and support.

“Earning my degree from COD has given me the confidence to keep striving and helped prepare me for a life of continuous learning,” said Cardenas.”The students and professors I’ve met here at the college have overall made my years at COD memorable.”

Cardenas also mentioned that it was with the help of one classmate who pushed him to enroll in his first film class. 

“An international student encouraged me to take my first film class, and it was a wonderful experience,” said Cardenas.

In addition to transferring, Cardenas does wish to see a less extensive application process, suggesting Cal State and UC systems implement an auto-fill application for student transcripts as a means for students to save time rather than manually entering coursework and grades. 

Cardenas plans on taking what he has learned at COD with him when he transfers, thanking the college for all that they have provided him.

“I plan to set goals and continue working towards achieving them daily by maintaining the momentum I built at COD,” said Cardenas.

Emily Engelschall, the undergraduate admissions director for the University of California, Riverside, said that the university had seen an unexpected 14,435 increase in fall 2021 transfer applications, making it the most transfer applicants received in the last five years. 

“We weren’t expecting an increase,” said Engelschall.”Nevertheless, our job is to make sure students get that campus experience that they were not able to receive since the start of the pandemic.”

Engelschall attributes this increase to the campus’s hard work in ensuring all students feel welcomed, safe and included. 

Engelschall also said COVID-19 had impacted students in a big way, especially those who have never stepped foot onto campus or have even lived on one, so the university has strengthened its virtual outreach to better communicate with students and families.

“Covid forced the university like it did many, to re-evaluate how we provide for the student and to expand our resources,” said Engelschall.”We don’t want any student to come onto our campus to feel that their needs have not been met.”

Undergraduate students enrolled at UCR have until June 1 to make an enrollment decision. 

Florencio Flores, a fifth-year business administration and communications major at COD, will be transferring to the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management. He’ll be studying business management with a concentration in information systems.

Like Cardenas, Flores was happy with his choice as he planned to go to the university since graduating high school. 

“I decided to go to COD because I felt I needed to further prepare myself before transitioning into a four-year university,” said Flores.

In addition, Flores believes that if he had taken a couple more courses during the start of the pandemic, he would not have been able to transfer.

“I had to take a winter and spring class last year to get caught up,” said Flores.”Even if it took that long, I’m still happy with my progress.”

Furthermore, Flores is grateful for the help he was provided with by both the ​​​Disabled Students Programs and Services ( DSPS) and Scott Cooper and COD’s Transfer Center resources during the summer of 2020.

“Through the resources such as the workshops, I was able to stay on track to graduate and transfer,” said Flores.“The accommodations and tools DSPS have also provided me with are all things I’ll be able to utilize no matter what campus I’m on, so I’m very thankful.”

The move to virtual classrooms was also not much of a challenge for Flores.

“With the help of the resources already available at COD and the universities I’d applied to, I was always presented with some platform I could use to reach out and ask questions,” said Flores.

When Flores initially wanted to apply to UNM during the fall of 2020, he states that the biggest obstacle was not communicating with either a counselor or a staff member within the undergraduate admissions department, as many services had moved online. 

“I do have family in New Mexico, so I am slightly familiar with the area but not with the campus,” said Flores.”It makes sense for students who were coming back on campus, but for transfer, international, or even out-of-state students, it was difficult navigating who to communicate with.”

Reflecting on his experience at COD, Flores looks forward to becoming involved in the student leadership roles available at UNM and hopes to connect with the various opportunities within the community.

“Receiving my bachelor’s in business management will be a stepping stone towards more opportunities within the business and administration field,” said Flores.”I’ll be able to connect with more nonprofit organizations where I’ll be able to give back, as that’s what I’m really passionate about.”