How four-year colleges can support transfer students

The key to transfer student success is partnerships between senior leaders at two-year and four-year institutions, Robert Templin and K.C. Deane write for Inside Higher Ed.

Templin is president emeritus of Northern Virginia Community College, senior fellow at the Aspen Institute, and professor at North Carolina State University. Deane is a doctoral student at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan and a fellow at Public Agenda.

Though many students who start at community colleges intend to transfer and earn a bachelor's degree, relatively few of them do, Templin and Deane write. They note that only 23% of community college students who intend to attain a bachelor's degree successfully earn a one within eight years—and the rate is even lower for underrepresented minority students.

Tips for a transfer-friendly culture from a transfer enrollment expert

Ongoing efforts are exploring ways to improve student success for transfer students. During the 2015-2016 school year, researchers from the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College wanted to learn more about the most successful transfer partnerships among community colleges and four-year institutions, so they visited several of them.  According to Templin and Deane, researchers learned that the best transfer student outcomes appeared at institutions where presidents were transfer students' most fearless cheerleader and when presidents engaged with both internal and external stakeholders.

Build your coalition on campus

Templin and Deane urge senior leaders to build a coalition on their campuses around transfer student success. For both community college and four-year leaders, this can include leading conversations based on outcomes data for both the general transfer population and of underrepresented minority students. Templin and Deane encourage senior leaders to engage critical stakeholders to create a sense of urgency about transfer students.

5 tactics to accelerate transfer student growth

Strengthen your network with other campuses

Templin and Deane write that presidents always ask them the same question after their presentations on transfer students: How do we get started? The researchers suggest that community college and four-year presidents meet to discuss the entire transfer experience. The conversation should include details ranging from financial aid to transfer credit hours, Templin and Deane write. Supporting transfer students requires looking at the big picture of their full experience, and requires input and coordination from both sides of the transfer equation, they write (Templin/Deane, Inside Higher Ed, 10/8).

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