The Transfer Acceptance Guarantee program, better known as TAG, has long been the only way for a community college student to be guaranteed admission into the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
But in the face of shrinking budgets and a growing pool of applicants, UCSD has raised its requirements for TAG candidates.
Starting fall 2012, UCSD is raising the minimum GPA required to qualify for TAG from 3.0 to 3.5.
At a meeting of the City College Academic Senate, Peter White, vice president of student services, insisted that UCSD’s decision was “completely driven by enrollment management needs” and not designed to boost the school’s rankings in any way.
Some students think that the new GPA requirement is unrealistic.
“If the TAG agreement had been 3.5 when I signed up, it would’ve been discouraging,” said Freddy Lopez, who was recently accepted to UCSD through the TAG program with a GPA around 3.2.
Lopez said his grades suffered in his first year at community college as he was still figuring out what he wanted to do. No matter how well he performed from then on, his earlier grades had set him back too far to attain a 3.5 GPA.
“When I moved to San Diego and started to really focus on school, I had to almost get straight A’s just to bring my GPA up to 3.2,” Lopez explained.
Questions were also raised about the fate of students who fall just below the 3.5 mark and those who may have signed up for TAG before finding out about the new GPA requirement.
“It’s not a solid line,” Academic Senate Treasurer Cathi Lopez said. “UCSD has made it very clear that they will be willing to work with us, though I can’t say what that means in concrete terms.”
White also stressed that there are other ways to get into UCSD, although they may not be guaranteed.
Programs like University Link, he said, can assist students in transferring to UCSD with a minimum GPA of 3.0. And since the average GPA of regular UCSD transfers is about 3.3, anyone who follows the IGETC and maintains a GPA even slightly below 3.5 has a good chance of getting in, with or without the TAG program.
According to White, transfers to private, for-profit colleges like National University and the University of Phoenix have gone up 74 percent in recent years, and he expects that number will grow as a result of the new TAG requirement.
As for these private, for-profit schools, Lopez said she personally wouldn’t recommend them, and Academic Senate President David Fierro agreed.
“It’s not the way to go,” Fierro said. “At a school with no regional accreditation, students who want to go on to grad school find out that they can’t.”
The truth is, said White, “TAG may be gone in a few years anyway.”
University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Los Angeles, already do not participate in the TAG program, and White suspects that “in short order, UCSD will join them in that pool, or TAG will go away altogether.”