STEM major prep and the UC
I have noticed over the last several months that one of the most common projects requested of me (and often one of the most time-consuming) is drawing up preliminary schedules and course fulfillment for community college students looking to apply to multiple UCs in a STEM major. Usually these majors are in the biological sciences, computer science, or an engineering field.
What makes it especially challenging, especially in the biological sciences, is that there are 15 or so potential bio-related majors. And yes, the UCs have created a preliminary Transfer Pathway for Biology, but it unfortunately does not cover every possible bio-related major — and whoo-boy, it can get dicey trying to figure out the best path to accommodate the most UCs.
Likewise, with Computer Science and its related fields (both B.A. and B.S.), there are a ton of options, and trying to figure a strategy to factor in requirements for multiple UCs can be downright hair-raising.
IGETC vs Breadth
There is also the consideration of general education courses. While most STEMs suggest a breadth path, they also allow IGETC (and some even recommend it). I hear time and again — oh no, IGETC will be more work — but that isn’t always the case, especially if you have AP credit. Keep in mind that major course requirements can also fulfill IGETC, and since breadth requirements can vary by college at each UC, you may find you are taking more breadth than you originally envisioned.
As an example, a couple of AP anomalies at UC Berkeley:
- General UC Berkeley breadth path and AP/English composition: Your English AP exam score must be 4 or higher to fulfill the first English comp course for breadth; however, an AP score of 3 on the same test will fulfill that same English comp course for IGETC.
- In Berkeley’s Letters and Science, AP credit is allowed for IGETC but not allowed for breadth.
Additionally, I like to remind everyone that there is one seemingly small difference between breadth and IGETC that can sometimes have huge consequences later on:
- Breadth is signed off by the UC, meaning each UC department will cross-check your GE courses to make sure you’ve fulfilled its breadth.
- IGETC is signed off by the CCC when you get certification, meaning each UC honors the CCC certification no matter what. They don’t go over the general ed course list. You’re good to go at every UC.
There’s a lot to take in, and a ton of variables, and sometimes what works for one person is not the best path for the next person — especially when you’re going for majors over multiple UCs that have a large number of course requirements. If you are planning a STEM major be sure to work extremely closely with your CCC advisor to make the best use of your time and resources.