Tackling Transfer

Ensuring community college students go on to attain their four-year degrees.
Preparing students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs remains a key component of community colleges’ core mission. Yet, today, the transfer process does not work well for most students; fewer than one in five entering community college students attains a bachelor’s degree.

In partnership with several leading organizations, Aspen is engaged in a multi-year project designed to improve bachelor’s attainment outcomes for students who enter community college and aim to transfer to a four-year institution. Supported by the Carnegie Corporation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Transfer Project has several components:
  • Transfer outcomes research. With the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSC), Aspen co-published research into the transfer and bachelor’s attainment outcomes of students who began at community college. The report offers a state-by-state look at transfer outcomes and proffers a comprehensive set of metrics against which states, as well as two- and four-year institutions, can assess their performance.
  • Transfer Playbook and assessment tool. Based on original research into the practices of six highly effective community college-university partnerships, the Aspen Institute and Columbia University’s Community College Research Center (CCRC) have investigated how institutions can improve transfer student outcomes by prioritizing transfer, creating clear transfer program maps, and establishing dedicated transfer advising. The report we published provides concrete examples of essential strategies as well as a checklist of “How to Get Started.” CEP will soon release open-access tools for assessing practice at two- and four-year institutions. 
  • Replicating effective practice. The Aspen Institute, the Community College Research Center (CCRC), and Public Agenda are partnering to support the widespread adoption of high-impact strategies for improving degree completion among students who start in community colleges seeking bachelor’s degrees. This work builds on two reports released earlier this year: CCRC’s Tracking Transfer research and the Aspen/CCRC practice guide, The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges.
  • The partners in this work are designing and delivering workshops in 2017 around the Transfer Playbook targeted at different levels of leadership and among diverse practitioners in both two- and four-year institutions. In partnership with AASCU, the John N Gardner Institute and Achieving the Dream, our organizations will design transfer workshops for two- and four-year institutional practitioners within the AASCU and AtD networks. Additionally, through a select RFP process, the collaborating partners are seeking to identify a limited number of states interested in and ready to convene two-year and four-year institutions to promote the adoption of policies and practices to improve bachelor’s degree completion rates by community college students. State higher education system leaders, and/or state higher education association leaders interested in partnering to run one-two day workshops for two- and four-year institutions on implementing practices to improve transfer outcomes for community college students are encouraged to review the RFP for more information and instructions on how to participate. If interested, please send a letter of interest addressing the questions in the RFP to TransferWorkshops@publicagenda.org. The number of states chosen for partnership will depend upon the level of interest and number of philanthropic partners. 

Related Posts

Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges
Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students Attain Bachelor’s Degrees
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Devon Harvey, Executive Assistant