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Program boosts community college transfers

A Community College Transfer Initiative launched four years ago by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation greatly increased the volume of students transferring from community colleges to eight selective four-year colleges.

By supporting the transfer process at receiving schools, the initiative dramatically boosted community college transfers to some of the nation's most prestigious schools: Amherst College, Bucknell University, Cornell University, Mount Holyoke College, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and the University of Southern California. A report on the initiative, "Partnerships that Promote Success," was released this month.

Among the eight schools, the initiative yielded 550 transfers in the 2007-08 academic year. By 2009-10, transfer enrollment had risen to 1,723.

The University of Michigan enrolled 1,104 community college transfers as of 2009-10; Mount Holyoke, 275; Berkeley, 245; Cornell, 113.

Transfer from community college to a four-year institution is an efficient pathway both for students and taxpayers: Students can complete the first two years of college for a fraction of the cost of a four-year institution, then finish with a degree from a prestigious four-year institution.

Virginia officials have increased transfers by rolling out a new generation of transfer agreements that guarantee enrollment at state universities to students who complete a modest list of criteria. In Maryland, new statewide associate's degrees greatly simplify the transfer process.

The Cooke Foundation initiative worked with community colleges and with individual students to ease the transfer process.

Tellingly, the analysis found that "a willingness to negotiate" on such matters as awarding credit for community college coursework was "often more effective" in promoting transfers than formal agreements.

Four-year colleges can thwart the transfer process by being unreceptive to community college students and inflexible in awarding credit for their community college coursework.

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By Daniel de Vise  | September 20, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Access, Admissions, Community Colleges, Public policy, Research  | Tags:  Jack Kent Cooke transfer initiative, community college transfers, community colleges  
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Next: A college degree pays dividends for a lifetime, report finds


At the community college where I teach, a large proportion of freshman-level students in freshman-level courses cannot write a three-sentence paragraph with a topic sentence. Hopefully this initiative will get them out of my classroom and over to the university where they can really shine!

Posted by: jjedif | September 21, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

jjedif: With an attitude like yours, what student wouldn't look forward to getting out of your classroom?

Posted by: Tom-Fairfax | September 21, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

jjedif, can't believe your comment and you are suppose to be the inspiring one. I am glad that you are not in a university b/c I would hate to pay $$$$ for my kids to have you as a professor.

Posted by: CC14 | September 21, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Will students who transfer their 2 community college years be able to graduate from the "prestigious four-year institution" in just 2 more years, or will they end up spending (literally) 3 or more years at the more expensive institution because the four year school requires classes unavailable at community college level? Without this information this article is incomplete.

Posted by: leuchars | September 21, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Did the study have information on how well the transfer students did at the universities, compared with the those who started there as freshmen? What percentages graduated?

Posted by: dottie_b | September 21, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I guess it's too early for graduation statistics. So how are their grades?

Posted by: dottie_b | September 21, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's not just that college graduates make more money, it's that the gap in earnings between those who complete college and those who don't is widening -- strongly suggesting that the supply of graduates is not sufficient to meet the existing jobs demand. With the need for college graduates growing, this reflects a serious long-term problem for the nation.

Lumina Foundation for Education’s new report, A Stronger Nation ( shows that less than 38% of adults hold degrees, when 60% of jobs in the next decade will require them. We now need to act aggressively to ramp up the supply of college graduates.

-Dewayne Matthews, Vice President for Policy & Strategy at Lumina

Posted by: landerson3 | September 21, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"It's not just that college graduates make more money, it's that the gap in earnings between those who complete college and those who don't is widening -- strongly suggesting that the supply of graduates is not sufficient to meet the existing jobs demand."

-- posted by landerson3 | September 21, 2010 11:14 AM

While this might be the reason for the pay gap, I think it is due to changes in the underlying populations of who does and does not go to college. Colleges are attracting an even larger share of those who would be financially successful regardless of higher education.
Granted, a college education has become the gateway to meaningful employment. But look at how many degree holders work in the service position (i.e. jobs where a college degree has no discernible impact on a person's ability to perform.)
I'd like to know what skill or skills all of these college graduates are gaining that makes them more employable. Some might say the "ability to think". I haven't found this to be so. There is a pronounced inability in this country to examine a claim critically and perform the needed research to determine its veracity.
As far as I can tell, a college degree makes a kid at least 4 years older and thus more employable than an 18 year old (though who wants to hire a 22 year old who won't have figured out exactly what he wants to do with his life.) It also shows who has the resources to pay for an education. Looking at the percentages of who gains a degree by race or ethnicity, I must wonder, is legal discrimination due to education level a more polite and modern Jim Crow?

Posted by: cbm92 | September 21, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The community college to major college transfer represents a win-win on all sides: students receive a quality introduction to college life in a smaller, more nurturing environment; parents save money on tuition, room, and board; and the major colleges can concentrate on specialized courses of study because most students who might need developmental classes have been served already. The curriculum cohorts with major universities in our community appeal to many students because they know that the criminal justice, education, business, computer science, international studies, music, and speech communication pathways will allow a seamless transfer to major university. Plus, the community college provides several Transfer Days that bring major colleges to the community college to ensure a smooth transfer. We are experiencing phenomenal growth in student population in part due to the economy, but also due to the smooth transfer to major colleges.

Posted by: bambam21 | September 21, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Where does all that UC Berkeley money go? A legacy of waste in UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California’s President Yudof.
The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn't there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants "thinking, expertise, & new knowledge".
Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley – flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world - lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years?
The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC’s leadership).
The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants' recommendations - disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy - the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $’s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer.
Let there be light!

Posted by: Moravecglobal | September 22, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

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