Taking the transfer pathway towards student success

Facilitating transfers from community colleges to four-year institutions remains an important focus of federal and state education policy.  For example, in December 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano convened the Transfer Action Team to develop strategies for improving the transfer pathway from California Community Colleges to the University of California.  The Transfer Action Team released its report, Preparing California for its Future: Enhancing Community College Student Transfer to UC, which contained several recommendations for streamlining and strengthening the transfer process and broadening the range of students who transfer.

The UC report, released in May, came on the heels of a major report on transfer published in the May issue of the journal Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis.  The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was based on a nationally representative cohort of first-time students at community colleges or four-year institutions.  The researchers interviewed students who were interested in pursuing a bachelors degree in 2004 (when they first enrolled) and then tracked their progress with subsequent interviews in 2007 and 2010 and by reviewing their transcripts.  A summary of the results of the report can be found in Paul Fain’s “Starting All Over Again,” which appeared in Inside Higher Ed in March 2014.  That report found that bachelor’s completion rates of community college students lag, in part because many students who attempt to transfer to four-year institutions are unable to do so.  The study also found that 14 percent of transfer students were hindered because their receiving institutions accepted fewer than 10 percent of their community college credits.

Napolitano commissioned the UC report in the first month of her administration and carefully monitored its progress, believing that the transfer pathway to the baccalaureate degree is critical for thousands of individuals who might not otherwise have access to a baccalaureate degree. According to Napolitano, “Transfer students are an important part of UC’s strength, as well as an engine of social mobility for our state.  Put simply, if we are serving transfers well, then we are serving the state well.”

The report was done in consultation with students, staff and faculty, as well as external constituencies such as the California Community Colleges and California State University.  The key recommendations of the Transfer Action Team are:

  • Enhance UC’s message to prospective students that they can afford and thrive at UC and create resources that invite and help prepare them, especially underserved students, for transfer;
  • Increase UC’s presence at California Community College campuses;
  • Streamline and strengthen the UC transfer preparation process;
  • Create a “transfer success kit” by conducting an inventory of services, identifying areas of need, and developing a systemic approach to help welcome students to UC; and
  • Commit UC to working with California Community Colleges and California State University to engage in strategic planning to improve transfer pathways.

AACRAO will be conducting a webinar on September 11th, 2 to 3pm ET  to help understand the political and policy debate that led to this report and to learn ways in which Napolitano's plan will be applicable to transfer issues and best practices at other higher education institutions throughout the nation.  The webinar will be led by Stephen J. Handel, Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Admissions for the University of California System.

Click here for more information and to register.

 

Also: Save the date for 2015 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference--July 12-14, 2015 at the JW Marriott Austin in Austin, Texas.