‘Majors and careers’ conference highlights transfer experience
Campus reaches out to community college advisers, students

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

13 March 2002 | More than 125 community college counselors converged on campus late last month to explore with campus faculty and staff issues of intense interest to prospective transfer students.

The day-long seminar, “Majors & Careers/UC Berkeley,” offered perspectives on the transfer experience from members of varied academic departments and colleges, and a hard look at the sometimes misunderstood relationship between the majors that undergraduates select and the careers they eventually pursue.

“We’re reaching out to the community colleges, which sometimes see UC Berkeley as intimidating, not a place for their students,” said Gail Kaufman, director of School/ University Partnerships in the Center for Educational Outreach. “We’re trying to break down some of that notion.”

Transfers a ‘rich addition’
The UC system has recently strengthened its commitment to enrolling transfer students from the state’s public two-year colleges.

In opening remarks, Genaro Padilla, vice chancellor for undergraduate affairs, echoed this commitment. Transfer students, he said, “do as well as our native freshman students, and indeed are a rich addition and asset to the intellectual and academic life of UC Berkeley.”

Nevertheless, applying to Berkeley is still a daunting prospect for many community college students, as conference participants discussed throughout the day.

“Their questions are so varied I am not sure I can do them justice to narrow them down to a few,” Nancy Delaney, coordinator of the Career/Transfer Center at Vista Community College, said of the students she works with.

Near the top of the list, she said, is “what to major in to get to their end goal, what to take at the bachelor level to be accepted at the graduate level.”

Varied career paths
Many believe, for example, that the majority of graduates attend graduate or professional school soon after graduation. Yet a recent survey by the campus’s Career Center found that less than 20 percent of the 6,000 baccalaureate graduates matriculate at graduate or professional schools immediately following their departure from Berkeley.

“There’s been a dearth of information about what happens to graduates after they leave the university,” said Tom Devlin, director of the campus’s Career Center.

The Career Center — which cosponsored the seminar with the Center for Educational Outreach — conducted the online survey of Class of 2000 grads. The study, Devlin said, “is the first comprehensive survey ever done at UC Berkeley. It goes down to level of majors and departments.”

The survey found that common perceptions of how graduates fare in the work world, and the majors they pursued at Berkeley, are based on anecdote. The Career Center is conducting further research that promises to better illuminate the paths from undergraduate majors to careers.
The study revealed the broad range of career options open to bachelor’s-level graduates see This information will be essential to advisers as they counsel students.

Alix Schwartz, director of academic planning at the Under-
graduate Division, told advisers that undergraduates who choose the less crowded majors — such as Italian Studies, Classics, or area studies on Southeast Asia or the Near East — often discover unexpected benefits, including close contact with faculty and fellow majors.

“There are pockets of intimacy at UC Berkeley, like creating a small town in a big city,” she said. “Students in whatever majors, if they are interested, will do well.”


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