Only 14% of this student population graduates on time—who they are and how to fix it

Build relationships with future transfer students

When community college students transfer to four-year schools, they often face setbacks, prolonging their time to graduation. 

In fact, just 14% of community college students who transfer to a four-year institution earn a bachelor's degree within six years, Elaina Loveland reports for University Business.

Community colleges and four-year institutions are realizing that articulation agreements alone aren't enough to support transfer students. Loveland rounds up ways that a few "transfer trailblazer" colleges are going beyond the standard partnership to improve transfer student success.

Find your "transfer champions"

Smith College supports transfer students, among other "nontraditional" groups, through its Ada Comstock Scholars program. So far, the program has helped 2,200 students transfer from community colleges and earn bachelor's degrees at Smith.

Smith has established articulation agreements with five community colleges. But Sidonia Dalby, associate director of admission and Ada Comstock advisor, says she goes one step farther by building strong relationships with the "transfer champions" at her community college partners. These individuals are usually faculty or staff committed to serving transfer students.

Chat directly with prospective students

Dickinson College reaches out to prospective transfers early in their academic careers—very early. By the time community college students transfer to Dickinson, they've been in conversation with the college for nearly two years.

Tara Vasold Fischer, associate dean of academic advising and college dean/coordinator of Dickinson's Community College Partnership Program, partners with advisors at four community colleges to identify potential prospects, then reaches out to the students herself. Vasold Fischer not only helps students plan their courses, but also helps "connect students with information and contacts they need for the social transition to be smooth."

Reduce barriers to transfer enrollment

Get students involved in social life

The University of Dayton's UD Sinclair Academy partners with Sinclair Community College, to offer transfer students the chance to participate in the Dayton campus community well before their transition. Community college students who are members of the UD Sinclair Academy can:

  • Participate in clubs at UD;
  • Meet with UD academic advisors; and
  • Participate in peer mentoring through UD's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

"Students don't miss out on being part of the university community while they are taking classes at the community college," says Julia Thompson, associate director of the office of admission and financial aid at UD.

How to get faculty on board with transfer efforts

Remove geographic barriers

Framingham State University (FSU) recently established a new partnership with Massachusetts Bay Community College (Mass Bay) that allows students to complete their bachelor's degree while physically still attending the community college. FSU professors visit Mass Bay during the evenings to teach the students in the program for their remaining two years.

The partnership is particularly helpful for nontraditional students who might not have the luxury to change their routines. "Students love the idea that they don't have to change their schedule to enroll in this program," says Lisa Slavin, assistant vice president of enrollment management at Mass Bay. "They can keep their evening course schedule and do what they need to during the day with, for example, work or childcare arrangements" (Loveland, University Business, 2/17). 

Support nontraditional students with alternative pathways to graduation

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