Cal Poly Pomona is a well-known transfer school, boasting 40% of the undergraduate population transferring in.
There are many reasons students choose to start their college career at a community college instead of a four-year university — some being that it is overall more inexpensive in the long-run, it allows the student more time to discover their future aspirations or because it offers a fresh start. Here are three stories from CPP’s very own transfer students recounting their journey.
Lauren Mojica’s story
This is civil engineering transfer student Lauren Mojica’s second time around in college. Before deciding to be a civil engineer, Mojica was an interior designer, but at the age of 23 she wanted to do something else.
“I loved it (interior design), but the pay is not that great and it just, I felt like I wasn’t being challenged in my life,” Mojica said.
Mojica’s decision to go back to school led her to Citrus College where she completed two years of fulfilling her general education requirements. She applied to six California State Universities but knew she wanted CPP for its large civil engineering department. Mojica transferred to CPP in fall 2022 in a unique circumstance as she came from a completely online school due to the pandemic to being fully back in-person.
“I was very excited to transfer, it kind of signified my halfway mark in school because I was two years done and I had about two years ahead,” Mojica said. “But I was also kind of nervous because I didn’t know how I was going to adjust to online classes (when starting at Citrus) and how different it will be going back in-person (at CPP). So, I feel like that had a big part in it.”
The transfer process was easy for Mojica, the challenge came from when she finally arrives on campus. Compared to Citrus College feeling nearly empty to encountering a large amount of people at CPP, Mojica had to adjust.
“Coming in, it was a little daunting because you constantly feel like you’re behind,” Mojica said. “Especially when it comes to making friends or relationships or anything, you know people have been here since their freshmen year and have already established those relationships and those friendships. And so, you kind of feel like, ‘Am I going to feel left out? Am I going to be able to make friends?’”
To adjust and find her community at CPP, Mojica joined clubs. This made school easier as she now had a group of people with similar interests she could go to for help through college. Since Mojica transferred to CPP she has joined four civil engineering clubs, to not only help her form her community but also help her gain the “learn by doing” experience CPP promises.
“I think joining clubs were honestly my lifesaver,” said Mojica.
Mojica knows she made the right decision to go back to school and to challenge herself. She advises it is normal to feel nervous, especially when starting at a new school, and it will always be a little scary, but everyone gains what they put into the experience.
“Honestly, like I’m so proud to be an engineer, I love what I do as stressful as it may be sometimes,” Mojica said. “Like I know this is what I was meant to do.”
Austyn Ventura’s story
Business administration for computer information systems transfer student Austyn Ventura’s start to his first semester at CPP aligned with a California Faculty Association strike and several of his classes canceling. Ventura wasn’t too worried about the possibility of the strike disrupting his first week at a new school as he understands some things need to be done to enact change.
Ventura’s mindset is the result of COVID-19 impacting his time at Mt. San Antonio College. Ventura only wanted to be at Mt. SAC for two years, but due to his struggles with online learning, he extended his stay to four years to lighten the amount of coursework.
“I think community college is great for people like me who are kind of just lost; needed some time to figure it out,” Ventura said.
Ventura began at Mt. SAC with a computer science degree but realized he needed to leave the STEM field because of his disdain for math. It was an easy switch to business because he understood the versatility of the degree. But Ventura was surprised when he started taking business courses such as macroeconomics at Mt. SAC because he found himself enamored with how business systems functions.
Ventura began talking to his advisors about transferring, and he was informed CPP is a sister school to Mt. SAC, so he began the application process.
“I think transferring the full transfer process by myself and making sure my financial aid was in order and not having any help really … it was a challenge and I wanted to make sure I can do this and now that the transfer process is done and I’m about to go to class, I’m like ‘cool, I did it on my own,’ and that feels good,” Ventura said.
What brought Ventura stress was the wait for the decision from CPP after he completed the application.
“During that time, I think the part that worried me the most was right when you send off the application and you’re waiting that month and a half, two months to get an email back from Cal Poly to be, ‘you filled it out correctly,’” Ventura said. “So that wait was stressful, but once they give you the log in code and the email and you start doing the stuff … I think from then it was like, ‘OK I’m in, I’m doing this.’”
Ventura heard about CPP back in high school because he was introduced to his current group of friends, some who attended IPoly High School. While Ventura is excited to check out the student amenities such as the Bronco Recreational Intramural Center, what he most looks forward to is finally being at the same school as his friends.
“Honestly, finally being at the same college as my friends,” Ventura said. “We’ve been high school friends, you know, for like six years and we’ve never gone to the same high school or school together. We went to different high schools and different colleges for the last six years. Finally, we get to be at the same school.”
Sydney Sears’ story:
English literary studies transfer student Sydney Sears hasn’t been lost once in her one semester on campus yet and that’s because CPP is where she is meant to be.
Sears is someone who is nervous if she doesn’t know where the building or classroom is. But the transfer student accustomed to the tiny Chino campus of Chaffey College was surprised at how easy it was to adjust to CPP when joining the campus community in fall 2023.
Sears began her higher education at community college as a nursing science student and needed one more semester to earn her associate degree. This was when she told her parents she couldn’t study nursing anymore as she would try so hard in the classes but couldn’t succeed.
“It’s very discouraging to, like, work so hard at something and fail,” Sears said. “And especially if it’s not even something you like. Like, I was just kind of doing it because I was like, ‘nursing, you know,’ and nursing is a fantastic profession, I currently work as a nursing assistant, it’s fantastic, but it wasn’t right for me personally.”
Sears attended an intro to English class her first semester, and it was her favorite class she took during her time at Chaffey. She would find herself frequently thinking about that class, and when she made the switch to literary studies, everything finally clicked for Sears like a cartoon lightbulb shining above her head.
“That class was so interesting, like, why am I sitting in this class that isn’t as interesting to me, you know,” Sears said. “And I felt bad too, because a lot of nursing majors they work very hard to be there, you know, and I felt like I was taking someone else’s spot that probably deserved it more than me.”
Sears extended her education at Chaffey for two more semesters to prepare to transfer to a four-year university. CPP was always on her radar as her two older brothers attended and graduated from CPP. She applied to three colleges and got into the other two, but she waited and finally, she heard back from CPP last.
“Cal Poly was my top choice and I really wanted to go there and then when I got the email being like, ‘you’ve been accepted into the English and literary arts program,’ it felt like very real for me and I felt very excited that I was finally able to study something that excites me,” Sears said.
From Sears first semester on campus, she enjoyed all her classes for the first time. She found the professors at CPP supportive by reaching out to help her personally through her college career. She also created a small community of close friends within her major as many are transfers like herself.
Sears knew she made the right decision by choosing to go to a junior college, switching from nursing to English literary studies to eventually transferring to CPP. She’s one semester in and already developed an attachment to her university.
“Oh no, my school spirit is showing,” Sydney laughed.
Mojica, Ventura and Sears, each with their own singular story, inhabits a common thread between them all: They all are finding their futures because of CPP.
To learn more about the transfer process, visit the CPP Office of Admissions’ website for more information and for resources offered to transfer students.