David Byrd, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Services at UT Health in San Antonio, described the challenges colleges and universities face in successfully supporting transfer student success. In his session at the 2017 AACRAO Annual Meeting, he described these challenges:
- The regions with the most low income schools are where the high school population is growing (e.g., south, west) and most (66.8%) enroll at a two-year or community college first;
- Most (54%) of those who complete a bachelor’s degree attended a two-year college;
- Only 15 percent complete a bachelor degree within six years, but 62.2 percent complete when you extend the timeline beyond six years;
- If students receive a favorable credit evaluation, they are more likely to complete a bachelor degree; and
- Students who complete an associate degree are more likely to complete a bachelor degree than students who transfer before completing an associate degree;
One of the key issues is how are we measuring completion since it is taking many students longer to complete their degree. This is even more important given that over half of all students on a typical campus have attended one or more prior institutions.
There are some things we can do to get the eight-year plan back to four to six years. These include: clearer pathways, better advising, more articulation agreements, smoother transfer process, and better financial aid resources. Articulation agreements plus intentional advising plus full-time study makes the difference!
One approach has been developed by the Harvey Najim Foundation that is supporting low income San Antonio students. Students are able to start at a community college for no cost. They continue at a university for no more than $10,000. Selected university partners in the San Antonio area have made it possible for the first cohort (17 students) to begin their journey toward receiving a bachelor degree in an in-demand academic program.
Dr. Byrd concluded by saying “Education is the only viable way to change our society.”