ON THE AGENDA | MAY 17TH, 2016 | ALLISON RIZZOLO

Tackling Transfer: Why We Must Help More Community College Students Make the Leap

Improving transfer may not be as emotionally resonant as free community college or reducing student debt. Yet helping more students transfer from community college to a four-year school is among the most critical ways our county can meet its higher education goals.

Improving transfer may not be as emotionally resonant as free community college or reducing student debt. Yet helping more students transfer from community college to a four-year school is among the most critical ways our county can meet its higher education goals.

Every year, millions of students aiming to attain a bachelorís degree attend community colleges because of their affordability and accessibility. Most of these students will not realize their goals.

While the vast majority report they want to earn a bachelorís degree, only 14 percent of degree-seeking students achieve that goal within six years. The odds are worse for low-income students, first-generation college students, and students of coloróthose most likely to start at a community college.

Together with the Aspen Instituteís College Excellence Program and the Community College Research Center (CCRC), we're working to help more community college students meet their attainment goals.

In general, the causes of the broken transfer process stem from system- and institutional-level policies, practices and supports, not the habits, actions or behavior of students. As Alison Kadlec, the director of our higher education and workforce programs, explains: "Community college students who want bachelorís degrees too often fall through the cracks trying to navigate the transfer labyrinth. Even if they do make the leap to a four-year college, they arenít finding the support they need to succeed once they arrive."

The first step in this transfer work with Aspen and CCRC was "Tracking Transfer," a research report examining community college student outcomes in nearly every state in the country. The research was conducted by CCRC, Aspen and the National Student Clearinghouse. We developed a companion slidedeck to illustrate the findings.

Today, CCRC and Aspen released "The Transfer Playbook," a detailed guide for two- and four-year colleges to help more students transfer and earn a bachelor's degree. The playbook draws on field research from six pairs of highly-effective community college and university partnerships nationwide and outlines the essential, effective practices for institutional leaders, along with a "How to Get Started" checklist.

Later this year, we'll work with Aspen and CCRC to develop and provide assessment and curriculum tools to help colleges, states and systems establish effective transfer systems.

For a quick summary of why Tackling Transfer is of critical importance, click through our slide presentation or check out our infographic. Stay tuned for more information on this work. To receive updates, sign up for our email list!


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