The numbers are sobering. Although two out of three Virginia students who start community college intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree, fewer than a third of them ever transfer to a four-year university.
In a 2012 cohort of 20,000 Virginia community college students aiming to transfer, only 1,989 actually earned a four-year degree. That’s a success rate of less than 10 percent.
Moreover, community college students who succeed in transferring for their bachelor’s degrees on average earn 133 college credits, 13 more than is required for most bachelor’s programs. That means transfer students usually end up taking – and paying for – an extra semester of college.
Students who want to transfer must navigate cumbersome processes, often lose credit for work already completed, and face other obstacles.
The 2018 Virginia General Assembly made it clear it wants a better path for Virginia students, passing legislation requiring institutions of higher education to work together to develop plans to ensure standards and procedures that will ensure a more efficient transfer process.
That legislation prompted Transfer Virginia, a collaborative partnership between the State Council of Higher Education, the Virginia Community College System, the Aspen Institute, HCM Strategists, and Sova.
The three-year initiative has ambitious goals, including:
• Improved communication and collaboration among institutions of higher education
• Better alignment of academic expectations at two-year and four-year schools
• Development of clear pathways to help guide students from high school through higher education, with degree attainment as the goal
• Streamlined transfer and improved guaranteed admission agreements
• Development of an online transfer portal to serve all students
“Virginia’s higher education transfer problems did not arise overnight, and the problems cannot be solved hastily,” said Sharon Morrissey, VCCS senior vice chancellor for Academic and Workforce Programs. “But we will tackle these issues. And Virginia will be better off for the effort, with a higher education system that is more affordable, more efficient, more equitable and more relevant for students in the 21st century marketplace.”
Transfer Virginia focuses on one overarching goal: Improve the efficiency of the transfer system, while closing the gap for underrepresented populations and Pell Grant recipients. If this goal is met, the higher education institutions in Virginia will award an additional 6,600 baccalaureate degrees to transfer students each year.
“Call to Action” event in the works:
“Each Virginia college and university will be invited to send a delegation to a statewide gathering March 15,” said Patricia Parker, Transfer Virginia project director. “Participants will engage in purposeful activities to break down conversational barriers, identify challenges, prioritize work, and identify commonalities in how we can best serve students.”
Details of the event will follow. In the meantime, learn more about Transfer Virginia here.
Featured image: Central Virginia Community College
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