Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting from A to B

November 19, 2008 - What’s worse than squeezing onto an airbus for the first leg of a cross-country flight? Maybe sitting next to a guy with a carry-on Big Mac. Then, once I survive the ketchup spills, the “just an air bubble” take off, and the near crash landing I get the pleasure of trying to find my connection so I can do it all over again; of course, with 3 hours of downtime in one of the terminals super-soft seating. With luck, I get the gate change in time and actually make it to my destination. I’ll take a direct flight any day, but for a variety of reasons, it’s not always possible.

Now picture the same logic being applied to community college students. If you have the resources to start at one of the nation’s 2,475 4-year schools, you’ll be directed differently. But, if you start at a community college with intentions of transferring to a 4-year school, it can be a labyrinth of wrong moves, changing info, delays and confusion – enough to not only cause you to miss your next flight, but to just turn back home. All this lack of attention, despite the fact that about 40% of all U.S. institutions of higher education are 2-year schools.

This month’s issue of University Business addresses the importance of improving the transfer process for community college students. UB reports that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, one out of five students who enroll for the first time in a 4-year college is a transfer student. And, according to the article writer Ann McClure, “community colleges will become more important to a wider variety of students if the combination of a weakening economy and increasing tuition continues.”

Having spoken to the community college partners embracing our technology to prepare for this trend, it’s the perfect time to address the issues – issues that clearly proliferate higher ed. Even the ubiquitous Wikipedia reports that, “transferring credits can sometimes be a problem” backed up by Michelle Cooper, President of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, who says in the article that "less than 30 percent of students who want a BA get a BA.”

The good news is that change is coming.

Cooper notes that, “community colleges have been very responsive to the concern about transfers.” We see that every time one joins the nearly 40 community colleges already in the ConnectEDU National Network™. They are taking steps by using our technology to make change. We see that in the forward-thinking initiatives our partner UMASS Boston is creating to provide transparency to its transfer students at Boston area community colleges. Technology is helping make connections, guide students, and open doors.

The more resources we provide students, the more tools we make available, and the more information we make accessible – the more success our transfer students will have getting from A to B – without a layover.

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