Prospective Students Q & A

How much work is TRAINS?

Research Expectations: TRAINS is intended to be two typical summer research experiences for undergrads i.e. 10 weeks of full-time work (32-40 hours a week) over two summers as well as 1.5-2 days (Not to exceed 14 hours) per week during the academic year.  (See TRAINS timeline graphic above)

Pictures of 2022 TRAINS Students and Faculty at SACNAS NDiSTEM Conference 2022 in San Juan, Puerto Rico

What are the expectations of me besides research?

 You are expected to take a seminar course: Physics 299B and Physics 299C at Rio Hondo College throughout the academic year as well as go to a scientific conference to present your work (For example SACNAS or SCCUR in October/November; Travel costs will be covered).  In addition, you will be expected to help contribute to the writing of a scientific paper with regards to your research and complete the transfer boot camp.


What is the TRAINS Program Culture Like?

Why the name TRAINS?  The actual name of the program is: Transitions and Research Across INterfaceS (or TRAINS for short).  The reason this name was chosen was that this program was meant to transition students from the community college to the 4-year university system through academic research and work not typically available at the community college level.  The need for this program comes from current scientific research that shows that community college STEM students are not as successful as their 4-year counterparts when they transfer i.e. the 4-year university is acting as a gate keeper to future STEM careers for community college students.  TRAINS wants to change this 4-year university gate into a welcoming interface where students are actively made into members of the 4-year university community; We believe by starting this process BEFORE students transfer, we will reduce the culture shock (“transfer shock”) that students experience when they transfer and that they will be just as successful as their 4-year university counterparts in their upper-division courses. 

 Furthermore, we emphasize the name TRAINS as there are multiple parties being trained in the process.  We believe we can help community college students best to pursue a career in STEM by training them in academic and professional scientific work as well as by training their mentors at the 4-year university to be accommodating to the unique challenges faced by community college students in their success i.e. we want to change both the community college student culture as well as the 4-year university culture to promote the success and talents of the community college student.  As such, TRAINS students should expect to have highly supportive mentors at USC who will be dedicated to their success and will understand them and support them throughout the entire TRAINS program and beyond.

Do you have to be “super smart” to be successful in TRAINS? The TRAINS leadership and faculty believe that good students are “made” and not “born”; We believe that by providing the appropriate guidance and leadership to any student, we will be able to transform a community college student to a student that is capable of transferring to USC, a globally recognized, elite university.  As long as the student is willing to put in the work and has a demonstrated record of grit and hard work, that student will be highly successful in TRAINS.  We know you do not know everything; That is the point of the program, to give you the rest.


How do I apply to TRAINS?

Click the link below apply to TRAINS.  Please note these applications are managed by UC Santa Barbara's CSEP Center, hence the UCSB associated URL. 

TRAINS Application Link (Due 4/1/24 by 5PM)

In order to have a completed application to TRAINS, you will need the following to finish your application:

Application Requirements for TRAINS

*Indicates that this is not a hard requirement with justification in personal statements.

I am scared to apply to TRAINS but I am really interested.  Can you give me some help?

Absolutely!  TRAINS will hold an application workshop on March 15th, 2024.  The link to the Zoom Session will can be found here:

Link to Application Workshop