Academic journal article Peer Review

Transfer in the Spotlight: New Models, New Opportunities

Academic journal article Peer Review

Transfer in the Spotlight: New Models, New Opportunities

Article excerpt

Transfer has a long history as a key part of higher education, but today it s in the spotlight as never before. Facing questions about why many fewer students transfer than aspire to do so-and concerns about the effectiveness of the transfer process, particularly for underserved student populations-two-year and four-year colleges and universities are taking a closer look at how transfer is working.

Starting in the early twentieth century, "junior colleges" offered opportunities for students to matriculate from two-year to four-year institutions. General education was an important part of the course offerings of most junior colleges, and agreements were created to ensure that students who sought to transfer credits between institutions could progress to obtain their baccalaureate degrees. Given this long history, the transfer process between community colleges and their baccalaureate partners seemingly would be perfected, but this has not happened.

Credit loss in the transfer process, even when students move between institutions with articulation agreements, is a serious problem Moreover, poor advising sometimes results in students taking courses that don't count toward the major or don't transfer at all, resulting in substantial loss of time and money. When credit loss happens and students are forced to remain enrolled for longer periods than expected, they are at risk of losing financial aid. Without these funds, students are often unable to pursue their baccalaureate degree. Low-income, racially diverse, and first-generation students are especially at risk.

Another transfer issue involves many students' needs to take courses at times that fit their lives rather than altering their lives to fit college. One initiative created to address this concern is called Credit When It's Due (CWID), a sixteen-state initiative funded by multiple foundations that is assisting states, higher education systems, and two-year and four-year institutions to reform policies and practices to enable students who transfer without first receiving their associate's degree to get this credential after they transfer to the baccalaureate level. An initiative like CWID may be important to addressing not only credit loss but credential loss, as the vast majority of transfers do not attain the associate's degree prior to matriculating to the four-year level. …

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