Ammoni Hall will be moving from one higher education institution to another this summer, a process that can be disruptive, complex, frustrating and fruitless when credit is not transferred and other unexpected obstacles are created.
But Hall, whose age is 20, will rarely notice the change.
He is among a small number of community college students who have been guaranteed a seat at a four-year partner university, with the idea that they will go on to graduate which most Hall-like students say they are ambitious.
Guaranteed and dual admissions – under which students are admitted to both two- and four-year programs at the same time – are designed to smooth their path. They usually include additional advice that many need to help them jump. This simple but little-noticed innovation is designed to fix a system that has stifled the ambitions of a surprising number of students – a problem that is getting worse.
According to the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, or CCRC, of the more than 700,000 students who enroll in a two-year public college for the first time each year, 80 percent say they eventually want to earn a bachelor’s degree or more. , Columbia University. But six years later, only 8 percent of them have actually done so, says the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Since the launch of Covid-19, the number of students transferring from community college to a four-year university each semester has fallen further, dropping by about 12 percent this spring.
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“Our transfer system or non-system was failing students even before the epidemic. It was highly inefficient and uneven, and now it is in even greater crisis, ”said John Fink, a senior research associate at the CCRC. (The Hatching Report, which produced this story, has also been kept at Teachers College.)
One of the biggest reasons is that it is left up to the students to find out the process, including which courses are required to meet the requirements for their final majors. If they don’t do this before transferring to a four-year university, they often have to start themselves from scratch, at a huge additional cost of time and money.
Guaranteed and dual admissions – under which students are admitted to both two- and four-year programs at the same time – are designed to smooth that path. They usually include additional advice that many of these students need to help them jump.
Hall has just completed a two-year program at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, which is not only a guaranteed transfer agreement with the University of Central Florida called Direct Connect, but also a campus downtown.
“As the day progressed, they became blurred together,” he said of the two schools.
While he was still pursuing his associate’s degree, Hall met with the university’s academic advisers, who helped him stay on the path to becoming a major at UCF in computer engineering, making sure he took all the prerequisite courses.
“A lot of people are surprised that there are so many prerequisites,” Hall said.
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Many credits are not usually transferred. Students who move from community college to a four-year public university lose more than 1 in 5 of the credits they have already earned and paid, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a recent analysis of the process. Those who transfer to a four-year private nonprofit university lose more than 1 in 4.
“Students are just guessing it will work. Why not? Why not transfer the credit? What they don’t know until it’s too late is they have to retake their general education courses, they have to retake the calculus until they get a B, ”said Fink, who previously worked as a student transfer adviser at the University of Maryland. “Community colleges and students for four years are not set up to receive information when they need it, which was earlier in the process.”
It’s not just the desire to help students that could ultimately change this equation; This is a steep and growing enrollment collapse where four-year-old university and community colleges are fighting to fill seats at the same time when the number of college students has dropped by 1.3 million since the epidemic began and nearly four million in the last decade. There is also pressure to improve ethnic and socio-economic diversity, which could lead to a shift from community colleges.
Many students start community colleges because they are cheap – their costs averaging $ 3,800 a year are $ 38,070 for private and চার 10,740 for in-state tuition at public four-year universities, The College Board reports – and often closer to home.
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Although there are now only a limited number of dual- and guaranteed-enrollment programs – most of them are very new to measure how well they still work – there has been a storm of additional contracts over the past few months.
In May, Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York and Morehouse College in Atlanta announced a confirmed transfer agreement. Johnson College and the University of Pennsylvania Bloomsburg signed an agreement in April for a dual-admission transfer program for majors in electronic engineering technology. Purdue University Northwest and Indiana Ivy Tech Community College reached similar agreements in March, such as Bergen Community College in New Jersey and Pace University in New York, as well as Box County Community College and Diesels University in Pennsylvania.
The University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago City Colleges launched a dual-admission program in nursing and other majors in December. Clinton Community College and State University of New York in Plattsburgh have announced a dual-admission deal this fall.
Also last year, Lehai Carbon Community College Pennsylvania both began a dual-admission partnership with Moravian College. And Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania signed a transfer agreement with Delaware Community College in April, the university’s ninth dual- or guaranteed-admission agreement.
Although they vary, these programs typically employ advisors from universities who are still in community colleges. Students usually do not have to re-apply for transfer or submission of application fee or admission. In some cases, private universities offer scholarships to participants who maintain a certain grade-point average – up to $ 32,000 per year in Susquehanna, $ 26,000 in Moravian, $ 25,000 in Pace and $ 20,000 in DeSales.
Community College students “can start a conversation with us before their first class with a faculty advisor on our campus so they can make the right kind of decision,” said Jonathan Green, president of Susquehanna. “With some helpful advice, they can literally get in and finish the Major here [a combined total of] Four years. “
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Natalie Shirk has a schedule for that to happen. He received his associate’s degree at Harrisburg Area Community College and moved to Susquehanna under one of his existing guarantees. “I was always afraid that things wouldn’t move,” he said.
Shirk was first introduced in community colleges to save money, he said, but he was concerned “going to waste money by paying for the same class again.”
In fact, all but one of his credits have been transferred from an online gym class, Shirk says. He entered Susquehanna as a junior and received a 32,000 scholarship. “I don’t have to lag behind and be a new person or start as a new person.”
Other than that, the less glamorous elements of such a system also have an amazing effect, advocates say. In some guaranteed- and dual-admission programs, community college students receive ID cards from partner universities, which allow them to use university facilities and participate in extracurricular activities.
They “help students create a sense of community with a four-year campus,” said Tania Laviolet, director of graduation in the College Excellence program at the Aspen Institute think tank.
In the Future Vikings dual-admission program with Cleveland State University, Cuahoga Community College students can take a free Cleveland State course after reaching certain milestones, said Melissa Swafford, director of the Cuahoga Transfer Center and president of the Ohio Transfer Council.
“It’s a way to get them acquainted with the course work at CSU,” Swafford said. “The sooner they have this connection, the better.”
Exposure like this “makes a huge difference,” he said. “If they knew where they were going, they would see that ultimate goal.”
Although they may be promising, such programs tend to be relatively small. In Susquehanna, for example, so far all seven students have moved from a community college, the university said. Other dual-admission programs “just sit on one website and no one is among them,” LaViolet says.
A program with lots of students: Advance (not an acronym), which connects North Virginia Community College and George Mason University. Of the 3,000 students who have signed up for Advance, 600 have matriculated at the university since the program began in 2018, says Jason Dodge, George Mason’s director of advance; In the fall, this number is projected to reach 1,000.
“We integrate them into the culture of community college and university at the same time,” says Dodge, who himself is a one-time community-college-to-university transition student. Meanwhile, Jennifer Nelson, chief transfer officer at Northern Virginia Community College, said the map-out path that leads from community college to George Mason’s majors is “guess from the transfer experience.”
This is something that previous community college students did not receive in countless numbers, says Theodoria Regina Berry, Vice Provost of Student Education and Academic Success at the University of Central Florida.
“This guarantee really gives students a sense of relief,” Berry said. “They know what their path is going to be, the way many of the transfer students I’ve worked with in the past weren’t 100 percent sure.”
As he moves closer to graduating from UCF from his two-year program, Ammoni Hall is already thinking about graduating school. And even if it’s part of increasing enrollment, he’s glad to hear that other colleges and universities are teaming up to streamline his transition experience.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing,” she said.
Produced this story about college transfer students Hatchinger report, A non-profit, independent news organization focusing on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for us Higher education newsletter.