University acceptance letters have rained down on a group of students at Oakland's Merritt College who have guided one another -- with the inspiration of a dedicated professor -- through the frustrating and complicated process of transferring from community college to a four-year school.
At a college with a transfer rate typically below 20 percent, all but one of the 18 club members who applied are headed to universities. Fourteen are going to a selective UC campus.
"We all want the same thing, but why is it so difficult?" said Alba Lopez, one of eight members who will start at UC Berkeley in the fall.
Guidance is in short supply at California's community colleges, where funding for advising, tutoring and other student support services was chopped in half during the economic downturn. But Professor Claudio Duran and his students found a low-cost solution to help aspiring transfers find their way: a support group.