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National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS)
Conducts, promotes, and disseminates disciplined inquiries to inform and improve transfer policy and practice. Strives to increase access to and attainment of certificate, associate, and baccalaureate credentials by promoting successful transfer and articulation for community college and university students. Attempts to bridge knowledge, policies, and practice by bringing together individuals, two-and four-year institutions, state agencies, higher education associations and foundations, and other interested entities to thoroughly study the issues related to the transfer process so as to facilitate student success and degree completion.
These goals and objectives are achieved through a combination of research,
education, and service.
Beverly Bower, Marc Cutright, Amy Fann, Bonita Jacobs, Janet Marling Funded by TG Public Benefit Grant Program
Sample and Research Questions
Large scale qualitative TX State study 14 institutions selected, 13 included 7 universities, 6 feeder-community colleges participated
institutions with high percentages of receiving/sending transfer students Regional diversity
Interviews with administrators and student focus groups Primary Research Questions:
How do administrators perceive and enact transfer policies?
What can student experiences in the transfer process tell us
how policy translates into practice?
Interviews senior and mid-level administrators at 13
4-7 individuals per campus
67 individual interviews 5 small focus group interviews
Interviews tape-recorded and transcribed Basic protocol with administrators: “Which state
policies help you with transfer student success, which do not?”
The Texas Common Course Numbering System The 6 Drop Rule The 3-Peat Rule
The 30 Excess Hour Rule
Transfer course applicability to degree programs Getting state recognition for successful transfer
students Administrator perceptions of academic advising
Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS)
Highly useful for articulating credit between institutions Has helped streamline transcript evaluation Helps students maximize the number of community
college credits transferred Greater potential for recruiting transfer students outside of the local region
Students who have knowledge of TCCNS (and know
where they intend to transfer)
can use electronic system to “self advise” and plan ahead
and check if their intended courses will transfer
Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS)
About 2/3 of participants described limitations of the
Voluntary system, not all universities have chosen to
participate Universities have final discretion in assigning course equivalencies Keeping the system up to date is a challenge, especially with myriad, often changing departmental curricular offerings
Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS)
Make the TCCNS mandatory for all public institutions
“[TCCNS] that would be great if we used it. We don’t use a common course numbering system. We use our own numbering system…If you want to influence policy.”
-University Associate Dean, Advising
“Allowing 4-year institutions to decide on their own whether they are going to participate is not a good thing. It does not help the student transfer easily. I wish it was mandated.”
-Community College, Academic Coordinator
“If institutions are not using common course numbering it becomes a problem, it becomes hard to understand.”
-Community College, Director of Admissions
The 6-Drop Rule
Intended to limit the number of times during an
undergraduate career a student can withdrawal from classes after the semester’s “census date.” Onus of tracking upon institutions, including procedures for determining the reasonableness of the withdraw
As result, the rule “has no teeth behind it” because institutions
can take maximum advantage of mitigating circumstances
Implications for students
Some students may have t0 take an “F”
Community college students tend to drop courses at a higher
rate Transfer students more likely to come up against the 6-drop rule after having transferred to the university
The 6-Drop Rule
Rescind the policy “Tell the legislature how crazy it is. There are as many exceptions as there are rules. It’s just a nightmare.”
-Community College, Vice President of Student Support
Student centered institutional practices Each semester after grades posted, students sent email regarding their 6 drop status ---students can also self-check When a student drops their sixth class, a screen comes up allowing them to select one of several justifiable reasons for dropping the course
The 3-Peat Rule
Places limit on the number of times a student may take a
course and the college/university will receive reimbursement from the state Administrators shared that they understood the intent of this rule, but noted it was most likely to affect students after they had transferred to the university Implications for students
Paying out of state tuition Difficulty making students aware of the policy
The 30 Excess Hour Rule
The amount of hours a student can take beyond the 120
credit hours typically required for the baccalaureate Administrators supportive of the sprit of the policy, but noted unintended consequences for transfer students
Previously it was permissible, even advisable, for students to
explore interests by taking different courses
Places undue burden on students who have stopped out of school,
changed their career plans or majors, started without declaring a major, or attended multiple institutions
Some institutions have reduced credit requirements for certain
programs so that students can take advantage of special programs without going over the 120 hour degree plan
Transfer Course Applicability to Degree Programs Biggest issue is not the transferability of courses per say, but the applicability of those courses to students’ majors
Especially within certain fields such as engineering, business or music Perceptions at the university level that community college courses are not as rigorous Some universities awarded elective credits for community college technical courses and/or created articulation agreements for students who complete an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree.
Who Gets Credit for Successful Transfer Students?
“…Part of the problem is that they [community colleges] don’t get credit for those who transfer in and if they did, I think the whole situation would change dramatically, because they would see us as a very valuable source. Why wouldn’t they want a community college graduate when those folks tend to do better than the native student? And we’ve done all their DE [developmental education] work for them. I mean, we’ve done all the hard work. We’ve gotten them ready for you, the four year [institution]. -Community College, Vice President Academic Affairs “..the other thing I would do that would make a big difference is give the transfer institution credit for the [baccalaureate] graduation for a transfer student. Number one, that’s huge. -Community College, Vice President, Instruction
This issues is being addressed in part through reverse awarding
of the associate degree.
Administrator perceptions of Academic Advising Starting early , helping students design a 4 year plan/life plan
“When I do degree plans, I show them a timeline of a year out and what they’re supposed to be doing over that year’s time in terms of visiting that institution, meeting with those people, making the application, seeing the financial aid people and making sure that they’re in well in advance for that transfer scholarship or any other scholarships with typically the March 1 deadline.” - Community College, Academic Coordinator “I think the Transfer Advising Program helps smooth the way because advisors are there for a more extended period of time working with the students, letting them know what’s right, what program the student can go into. We have an advisor for particular colleges so the students can get that help, it’s the matter of knowing as a freshmen what they want to be doing so they can make that transition and know everything counted, we both win.” – University, Director of Student Recruitment
Requiring academic advising Devoting resources to academic advising
Ultimately, state policies are interpreted and enacted by
individual institutional agents Make the TCCNS mandatory for all public institutions Unintended consequences of 6-drop rule, 3-peat rule and the excess 30 hour rule for transfer students Legislation written for full-time, traditional students Legislation not written with community colleges in mind
Student Focus Groups
Two student focus groups at each of 13 sites 14 focus groups at the university level
4-15 students per group (125 students)
12 focus groups at the community college level 6-15 student per group (128 students)
Criteria: Transfer intent students/students who
had transferred from CC 90 minute focus-group interviews, including brief questionnaire
Transfer of Credits
Overall, biggest complaint, transfer of credits,
especially applicability of credits to student’s major Having to repeat courses
Financial and time issue
Increase students chances of hitting 30/40 rule
Not knowing, or not knowing in time, about petition
process for challenging transcript evaluation
Some advisors pro-active in informing students about
options while other students found out on their own and had to “push” advisors to provide paperwork and or help them petition
Student Perceptions of Transfer Advising
“Luck of the Draw”
“It seems like the advisors really don’t tell you…in the college of business, you just kind of get the luck of the draw. They don’t tell you exactly what you need.” –University Transfer Student “You wait in line for two and a half hours and then someone calls you. A lot of the advisors here are part-time. There are times I go in and ask to see the same person and that person is not working that day…When you have people trying to advise students when this isn’t their full-time job, I don’t think they take it as seriously as the students are expecting, because they really need the help.” -Community College Student
Receiving Conflicting Information about Transfer
“Each [advisor] has said different [things]. And it’s just mind boggling to where I get annoyed. “I’m not undermining our advisors. Some are good, some are subpar, and sometimes I get misinformed which—I’m investing my time and when I’m [guided] in the wrong direction there goes lost time.” -Community College Student
Student Perceptions of Transfer Advising
University transfer advisors and recruiters Held regular advising hours at the community college or at university counseling center Provided informal transcript review and admissions advising specific to intended transfer institution The role of faculty Increase faculty involvement Alert faculty to transfer related policies and resources
Comprehensive Advising Model: Starting from Scratch
Students may not know what to ask, who to ask, or
where to start
“ I’m a first-generation college student. I didn’t really know where to go or what the process was. Since [the college] was close to my home, I thought, “It’s a place for me to start.” -Community College Student “…I had more than 30 hours and… I got lost...I was in the dorms and the freshman knew more than I did.” -University Transfer Student
Comprehensive Advising Model: Starting from scratch
“I told [the counselor] I wanted to do business management and they didn’t ask me if I planned on transferring, they didn’t ask me if I wanted a 2 year or 4 year degree, they didn’t ask me anything, they just grabbed the [degree plan], and it was an Associate of Applied Science, it’s not an Associate of Arts... I got half way through and I went to talk to a [university] recruiter and he said, “we’re not going to take half these classes because they are technical vocational classes.” What was the point of getting a degree plan and following it if half of these classes aren’t even going to transfer? Essentially I started over…”
Comprehensive Advising Model: Teaching Students How to Use Information
“They [advisors] don’t tell you exactly what you need but
they say, “this counts.” That doesn’t really show you how it fits into the structure.”
“[Getting] loans and financial aid was a complicated
process and confusing, and [the counselors] didn’t help much, they just tell you go to this website and fill it out. They don’t tell you what to fill out or what you needed or anything.”
Student Success Courses
Can be used to teach students about preparing to transfer
“The student development course that I took…was the most
helpful thing because other than that, everything else I did on my own, searching for myself.”
-Community College Student
“My instructor was really helpful, she walked us around the transfer center, told us where all the offices were, told us where to look for stuff on our own without having to wait in line. It was really helpful. She helped us find a lot of resources on the [college] website because it’s kind of wild sometimes. She helped us figure it out and that’s what I’ve been basing my curriculum on, what I learned in that class”.
-Community College Student
Transfer Student Orientation
“[students] need to sign up for a transfer session to see your
advisor and to [select] your schedule, everything about it was good. It wasn’t that long”.
-University Transfer Student
“ I wish I had gone to orientation. I was a transfer student
with more than 30 hours and I didn’t have to make it…I felt frustrated that I didn’t know where things were.”
-University Transfer Student
Special programs such as TRIO, honors, and athletics Provided one-on-one student advising and encouragement for transfer
“I got into the SSSP [Student Support Services Project]
they offer text book lending, laptop lending, personal counselors to help you transfer [and]to help you sort through personal issues... They’re really helpful, but there is usually a waiting list for that one, it fills up really fast.”
-Community College student
Online Transfer Information
Knowing it exists and being able to find it
Determining whether information is current Understanding what it means “I got all of my information from the Internet…that was helpful to an extent because some of the classes weren’t on there.” “The website is not easy to navigate. It’s easier for me to Google something and then get the results than search for it.”
Up-to-date, user friendly Online information Advisor/counselor training
Need for comprehensive academic advising Teach students how to transfer Begin early (part of high school advising) 4-year degree plan or “life plan” Transfer advisors at the community college and/or advising for pre-transfer students
Mandatory transfer-specific orientation
Student success programs/courses for transfer students
Tracking systems for transfer students
Better articu lation betw een acad em ic d epartm ents
Organizations/Associations that Provide Resources and Research on Community Colleges, Effective Transfer Practices, and College Student Access and Success
American Association for Community Colleges (AACC) www.aacc.nche.edu/ Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) University of Texas at Austin http://www.ccsse.org/ Center for the Study of Community Colleges http://centerforcommunitycolleges.org/ College Board http://www.collegeboard.org/ Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) http://www.cscconline.org/ Lumina Foundation http://www.luminafoundation.org/ National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) www.nacacnet.org/ Office of Community College Research and Policy (OCCRP), Iowa State University www.cclp.hs.iastate.edu/occrp/ Pathways To College Network http://www.pathwaystocollege.net/ Pell Institute http://www.pellinstitute.org/ Texas Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors http://www.cpupc.org/images/Transfer_Report_Nov_2010.pdf Texas Guaranteed Public Grant Program http://www.tgslc.org/publicbenefit/ Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board http://www.hecb.wa.gov/program-administration/credit-transfer
Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board Transfer Rights and Responsibilities
Student Rights and Responsibilities
1. Students have the right to clear, accurate, and current information about their transfer admission requirements, transfer admission deadlines, degree requirements, and transfer policies that include course equivalencies. 2. Transfer and freshman-entry students have the right to expect comparable standards for regular admission to programs and comparable program requirements. 3. Students have the right to seek clarification regarding their transfer evaluation and may request the reconsideration of any aspect of that evaluation. In response, the college will follow established practices and processes for reviewing its transfer credit decisions. 4. Students who encounter other transfer difficulties have the right to seek resolution. Each institution will have a defined process for resolution that is published and readily available to students. 5. Students have the responsibility to complete all materials required for admission and to submit the application on or before the published deadlines. 6. Students have the responsibility to plan their courses of study by referring to the specific published degree requirements of the college or academic program in which they intend to earn a bachelor’s degree. 7. When a student changes a major or degree program, the student assumes full responsibility for meeting the new requirements.
College and University Rights and Responsibilities
1. Colleges and universities have the right and authority to determine program requirements and course offerings in accordance with their institutional missions. 2. Colleges and universities have the responsibility to communicate and publish their requirements and course offerings to students and the public, including information about student transfer rights and responsibilities. 3. Colleges and universities have the responsibility to communicate their admission and transfer related decisions to students in writing (electronic or paper).
Exemplary Practices for Transfer Student Services
The (Texas) Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC) released a list of exemplary practices for transfer student services (2010). While developed by representatives of four-year institutions, many of these practices can be incorporated at community colleges by adapting them for use with transfer-intending students. This information, gathered from the literature and from leading experts in transfer student services, include, among others, the following: Transfer orientation programs at both the two-year and four-year campuses Transfer learning communities and/or residential interest groups “Transfer year experience” programs Transfer student focus groups, surveys, and assessments Campus retention/graduation committees with a focus on transfer Self-assessment of the campus transfer culture Financial management workshops centered on paying for college Transfer student ambassadors Faculty/staff mentoring program Parent/family programs Veterans programs Transfer student bill of rights Transfer fairs for students and their families Online transfer guides Early alert systems At-risk and academic support services Learning centers Transfer student success seminars on both the two-year and four-year campus Tutoring labs, on-line tutoring, and peer tutoring Supplemental instruction Advisors (including faculty and counselors) who are trained to monitor the transferability of courses prior to registration Holistic and intrusive individual advising
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Amy Fann Amy.Fann@unt.edu
Janet L. Marling Janet.Marling@unt.edu http://transferinstitute.unt.edu
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