Uptick in efforts to simplify, encourage transfers to four-year schools

Nearly 89 percent of colleges say that transfer students are “considerably or moderately important” to fulfilling their enrollment goals, and many are taking steps to smooth the path from community college to four-year programs.

The Christian Science Monitor details how, since the 2008 recession, colleges and universities have seen an increase in transfers. “This is a financially feasible route whether you’re a nontraditional student who needs the flexibility of community college or you’re a student whose family doesn’t have the money to send you to a four-year university,” Heather Adams, the transfer student program director at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Monitor. Four-year institutions also are eyeing the transfer process as a way to increase diversity on campus, given that the community college population tends to include more adult learners, parents, and military veterans.

Programs aim to boost transfer enrollment

Many community college students say they intend to transfer to four-year programs, but just 14 percent of those students actually do. Hoping to increase that number, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 13 years ago launched the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), through which the university partners with 13 community colleges across the state. Students enrolled in C-STEP complete an associate degree at a participating two-year program and are guaranteed eventual admission to the university if they meet certain criteria; they also participate in advising, special events, and support services designed to ease their transition to a bachelor’s degree program.

With transfer students accounting for approximately 40 percent of its incoming classes, the University of California system also has forged close partnerships with community colleges. The system offers campus visits and summer programs tailored to transfer students. The three-year-old Interstate Passport initiative, meanwhile, connects 28 two- and four-year institutions across 10 states to align curricula and ensure students can transfer seamlessly without losing credits.

The Monitor points out that elite institutions, especially, have an opportunity to increase transfer enrollment, citing a recent report published by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Community college students, “are bringing a richness of experience, of point of view, of thought that every university should be exploring if they’re not,” said Adams.

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