The state of Illinois boasts the highest baccalaureate degree completion rate of community college transfer students in the nation (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Tracking Transfer Report 2017). According to Dena Lawrence, Illinois MyCreditsTransfer
Coordinator, there are many reasons for that statistic -- but two specific practices stand out:
Transfer Coordinators Group. All transfer coordinators in the state from any kind of institution are welcome to this group, which has no professional dues or meeting costs. Twice a year, coordinators across the state meet to share best practices,
discuss common challenges, and support one another. The group also has a listserv. “This is such a vibrant resource,” Lawrence said.
“It’s a collaborative approach to addressing changes coming down the pike, policies coming from the legislature, and so on. We also get feedback from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Articulation
Initiative, and Illinois MyCreditsTransfer. It helps people implement changes -- and changes are always coming in the world of transfer.”
Illinois Articulation Initiative. This statewide agreement with over 100 participating institutions establishes a general education core curriculum. Faculty panels evaluate courses for learning outcomes, rigor, and content, and, if the course is
approved, all participating institutions will accept it to fulfill that area of the general education core curriculum (GECC). If the institution doesn’t have a direct equivalent, they will give credit to fulfill that GECC requirement. The GECC
credential has recently been added to community college student transcripts so receiving institutions don’t have to go back to verify completion.
“We’re a very independent state, and this initiative doesn’t take away our institutional diversity or uniqueness of the schools, but it does assure greater mobility of credit for transfer students” Lawrence said.
In addition to these statewide efforts, individual institutions such as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville are undertaking campus-based initiatives to improve transfer students’ experience. Building strong and trusting partnerships has been
one key to their success, according to Jennifer Harbaugh, Associate Director of Admissions at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“Honest conversations have helped to give us a heads up regarding what we can improve on our end,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been so thankful for that.”
A second, and often forgotten, strategy for transfer students has been to focus on their acclimation to campus after they’ve enrolled.
“In addition to making the transfer process easier, seamless, and transparent, we also have to remember to help students immerse themselves in campus culture when they get here,” Harbaugh said. For example, SIUE has a very successful housing
program that focuses on transfer student needs.
“It’s been great to see students become more engaged and comfortable,” Harbaugh said. “It’s great to see them feel, This is my campus, too.”
Lawrence and Harbaugh are excited to share their insights and invite attendees to share what works on their campuses and in Illinois during their 2019 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference session “Transfer Students Can Be a Sure Bet!”
Learn more about the conference program here.