It’s too tough to transfer credits when students move from community college to four-year institutions, concluded panelists at a Center for American Progress discussion, reports Inside Higher Ed. The average transfer students earns 140 credits but is able to use only 120, a CAP policy brief found.
“Articulation and transfer is an old problem, but it’s begging for new solutions,” said Frank Chong, the Education Department’s deputy assistant secretary for community colleges at a CAP event. “Pathways should be transparent, clear and seamless.”
States are taking many approaches to the problem. Florida’s public colleges and universities have adopted a common course numbering system. California will require community colleges to create transfer-specific associate degrees that California State University campuses must accept. Ohio, Indiana and Texas college leaders talked about policies to facilitate transfers.
Amy Sherman, co-author of the CAP brief and associate vice president for policy and strategy alliances at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, urged “incentives for higher education to support mobile students,” expanded articulation agreements and eventually “cross-state” agreements.
“We should also learn more about the mobility and outcomes of students who cross institutional borders,” Sherman said. “We should define success more broadly.”
. . . she called on educators and policy makers to “demystify the path to degree process.” She favors a national database on articulation and transfer, building on what information is currently available, which would help students see clearly how their credits transfer before they enroll.
“I really think navigational assistance and advising is the missing link out there,” Sherman said.
While 14 states set a “general education common core curriculum” that is easily transferable from one institution to another, only seven states have a “common course numbering system.” Twenty-two states have “statewide program major articulations” that allow seamless transfers, 20 states have “block credit transfer” and 30 states have “transfer associate degrees,” with guaranteed acceptance as a junior at a four-year institution.
Only 10 percent of community college students go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, writes Richard Kahlenberg on the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Research finds that students who begin at two-year institutions are much less likely to receive a bachelor’s degree than equally qualified students from similar demographic groups who begin at four-year institutions. Weaknesses in the community-college sector are partly responsible, but so is the difficulty in transferring credits between institutions.
Easing the transfer process “would make community colleges more attractive to middle- and upper-middle-class students—who would, in turn, bring social and political capital that would benefit everyone in the two-year college sector,” Kahlenberg argues.