Improving Outcomes for Transfer Students

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Fewer than one in seven degree-seeking community college students transfer and graduate with a bachelor’s degree. How do we help the millions of students failed by current transfer practices and policies succeed?

The Transfer Playbook, released by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Columbia College’s Community College Research Center (CCRC), serves as 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 Start” checklist. With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, this report builds on a January report, “Tracking Transfer”, that assesses institutional effectiveness in transfer student outcomes nationwide and at the state level.

“Helping more community college students successfully transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree is both one of the biggest challenges faced by American higher education, and one of the most promising strategies for advancing economic opportunity and developing talent in this country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director at the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and co-author of the guide.

Commenting in a news report by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, Wyner added, “Colleges have to start thinking about students before they arrive and after they leave.”

The reports notes that effective practices being used at colleges with strong transfer student outcomes include the use of data to monitor transfer student outcomes, build urgency among faculty and staff for improving transfer student success, and identify areas of improvement in existing transfer practice.  In addition, faculty and advisors at community colleges help students choose a major and preferred transfer destination early in their college careers.