Report Highlights Characteristics of Colleges With High Transfer-Success Rates


Many students attend community colleges for general studies courses in hopes of transferring to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, not all of these students continue on, which is especially true for minority and low-income students. The article below introduces a new report, Bridging the Gaps to Success: Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer Among Low-Income and First-Generation Students by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, that “highlights the work of six Texas community colleges with higher-than-expected transfer rates among their students.” In the report, the Pell Institute found that all six of the Texas community colleges shared three main objectives:

1. Structured academic pathways
2. Cultures emphasizing personal attention to students
3. College presidents and staff from as culturally diverse backgrounds as their students.

The community colleges worked in conjunction both with high schools and their nearby four-year institutions to encourage college coursework in high school to prepare students for college level work and to ensure credit transfer when transitioning to four-year institutions. Starting at a community college is an effective way for students to jump-start their higher education pursuits because it’s more cost effective than going straight to a four-year university or degree program, and these students have an opportunity to prove themselves at the community college level by acquiring strong study skills and qualifying their desire to pursue a higher education. Conversely, if they decide college isn’t for them, they haven’t wasted a lot of time or money, and they can use this information to hone what it is they really want to do for a future vocation or career.

LifeBound’s book, Majoring in the Rest of Your Life: Career Secrets for College Students is a tool for college-bound students, and Pearson Education’s Keys to Effective Learning can help students sharpen their study skills for college level work. Here are questions pertinent to today’s article:

How can community colleges nationwide implement similar objectives to the ones in Texas?

What else can be done at the high school level to help prepare students (especially minority and low-income students) for the rigors of college?

How else can community colleges and four-year institutions ban together to ensure a smooth and effective transition?


Chronicle of Higher Education
November 19, 2009
Report Highlights Characteristics of Colleges With High Transfer-Success Rates
By Jennifer Gonzalez

A new report by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education may provide clues on how best to shepherd students from two-year to four-year institutions.

The findings come at a time when the Obama administration has put out a clarion call to community colleges to educate an additional five million students by 2020, as part of his broader goal of increasing the proportion of Americans who are college graduates.

“In order to achieve the president’s goal and the goals of so many others, like the Lumina Foundation, you have to tap into this population,” said Chandra Taylor Smith, the institute’s director. “Community colleges are a critical component to achieving the goal of educating more people.”

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