Navigating new pathways towards student success

The transfer of academic credit is a critical feature of American higher education.  President Obama's College Completion Agenda and the lessons learned from the recent recession have raised the visibility of transfer issues even further.  Although hampered by a lack of national data, research in the field of transfer is becoming more prevalent. 

For example, the Gates Foundation commissioned a College Board study examining the effectiveness of the transfer pathway for community college students seeking a BA degree. The Gates study identified specific challenges facing the expansion of the transfer pathway:

  • Lack of institutional incentives to support transfer.
  • Ruptures in the transfer pipeline where most potential transfers are lost.
  • Discontinuities in financial aid that do not support transfer students.
  • Distinct and sometimes contrary academic cultures at two-and four-year institutions that compromise transfer student progress.

At last year’s Transfer and Technology Conference in Tucson, Arizona, AACRAO released a compilation of executive summaries on topics covering transfer issues, including one by Dr. Stephen Handel, currently the Associate Vice President for undergraduate admissions in the Office of the President at University of California System.  Dr. Handel was one of the keynote speakers at AACRAO’s Transfer Conference in 2013, when he was the College Board’s Executive Director for the National Office of Community College Initiatives. His white paper examines the fundamentals of the transfer partnership between community college and four–year institutions, documents the increasing desire of students to transfer, and recommends strategies to enhance this vital academic conduit as envisioned by education progressives.  He also identifies the many difficulties that community college students face when transferring.  They include first generation college-going students’ inability to navigate the higher education system, the absence of necessary support programs, and the reluctance of four-year institutions to recruit transfer students, who represent fewer years of tuition inflow.

Click here to download a copy of the summary from Stephen Handel’s presentation at AACRAO’s Transfer Conference. 

AACRAO will be providing many more sessions geared towards facilitating effective transfer at the upcoming 2014 Transfer/Tech conference. Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart, president of Valencia Community College, will deliver the opening plenary address, “Serving Authentically: the Challenge and Gifts of a Postmodern Generation." 

Our current college undergraduates represent the first generation of truly postmodern students.  Their cultural experiences differ in profound ways from anything we’ve experienced before.  In particular, their views and assumptions about institutions are deeply skeptical of our motives.  They also bring gifts to our colleges, if we know how to connect with them.  Using music, stories, and poetry, Dr. Shugart will lead a reflection on how to serve these students authentically.

Dr. Shugart has served as the fourth president of Valencia Community College in greater Orlando, Florida.  As winner of the first Aspen Prize for Excellence, Valencia is one of the most celebrated community colleges in America.  Serving some 70,000 students per year, Valencia is known for high rates of graduation, transfer, and job placement and has become something of a national laboratory for best practices in learning-centered education. 

If you are looking to improve your transfer practices, or if you apply technology to your work as a higher education professional, plan to attend AACRAO’s Technology and Transfer Conference (July 6-8 at the Marriott Harbor Beach in Ft. Lauderdale, FL). View the Registration Brochure to see this year’s program of thought-provoking plenary speakers, interactive sessions, and roundtable discussions. Registration is open and the early bird deadline is June 6th