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ERIC Number: ED541978
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 80
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 114
The Promise of the Transfer Pathway: Opportunity and Challenge for Community College Students Seeking the Baccalaureate Degree
Handel, Stephen J.; Williams, Ronald A.
College Board Advocacy & Policy Center
In 2010, the College Board's Advocacy & Policy Center, with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, initiated a project to identify ways of improving the efficiency of the transfer pathway, a century-old mechanism that provides community college students with an opportunity to earn the baccalaureate degree at four-year institutions. Both organizations understand that the national focus on increasing the number of individuals with credentials and degrees will require that transfer play a significant role, especially given the fact that 47 percent of all undergraduates attend community colleges. Now and into the future, the way in which two- and four-year institutions embrace transfer--or not--will influence the educational fate of thousands of students in the U.S. To address this issue, College Board staff reviewed research pertaining to transfer, convened the Commission on Transfer Policy, a committee composed of education leaders having special expertise in serving community college transfer students to identify significant and emerging trends that influence transfer, and engaged the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) to address a series of empirical questions raised by the Commission and College Board staff. This report, as well as several supplemental reports, describes the transfer process as it is currently applied; identifies major challenges facing policymakers wishing to expand this pipeline; and provides a set of recommendations for states, two- and four-year institutions, and other entities, including the philanthropic and research communities, that are designed to advance transfer as a more effective pathway to the baccalaureate degree. The empirical and policy findings gathered for this initiative suggest the following: (1) Transfer continues to be a popular route to the baccalaureate degree, but the transfer rate has not improved despite more students wishing to transfer; (2) The transfer process is too complex; (3) The effectiveness of statewide articulation policies in boosting transfer has not yet been established empirically, but transparent transfer credit policies remain essential for student success; (4) Community colleges and four-year institutions are rarely acknowledged for the work they do on behalf of transfer, and where transfer-related metrics exist, they are often imprecise, inadequate, or misapplied; (5) Community colleges and four-year institutions are different academic cultures that create barriers for students already struggling to maneuver through a too-complex system; (6) Financial aid policy is an essential element for an effective transfer plan, but it is not often aligned with other initiatives to boost transfer; and (7) The authors do not know the capacity of the current transfer system, and this impairs the ability to meet the nation's college completion agenda. The empirical and policy findings gleaned from this initiative invite a set of recommendations targeted to state governments, two- and four-year institutions, and the research, policymaking, and philanthropic communities. (Contains 1 figure, 4 tables, and 32 notes.) [For "The Promise of the Transfer Pathway: Opportunity and Challenge for Community College Students Seeking the Baccalaureate Degree. Summary of Empirical Analyses, Policy Reflections and Recommendations," see ED541969.]
College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. 45 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10023. Tel: 212-713-8165; Fax: 212-713-8143; e-mail:; email:; email:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: College Board Advocacy & Policy Center