Nearly four million community college students intend to transfer to four-year institutions, but don’t. Is your school missing this large pool of well-qualified, eager students?
A lack of community college engagement may be the main cause.
As I talk with enrollment leaders at four-year institutions across the country, I find—not surprisingly—that most make the mistake of having only minimal contact with their local community colleges. True community college partnership is essential to recruit transfer students—a population that many schools must now enroll to help mitigate the tuition revenue risks caused by increasing competition for high school graduates.
When I led Franklin University’s 230-member Community College Alliance, I learned that comprehensive collaboration with community colleges enables schools to cultivate strategic alignment for new articulation agreements and communicate directly with prospective transfer students. Most importantly, collaboration allows schools to develop trusting relationships with advisors and influencers to best support those students when they need it most – as they enter the decision phase of their transfer journey.
We developed the following questionnaire to help enrollment leaders evaluate the strength and scope of their own community college partnerships. For each of the 10 questions below, please rate if and how these practices are implemented at your institution according to the following scale:
- Shaky: does not engage in this practice in a meaningful way
- Evolving: has initiated this practice but not extensively
- Firm: commonly uses this practice and is moving to formalize implementation
- Rock solid: consistently includes these practices in support of transfer students
At the end of the diagnostic, reflect on the overall quality of your program and submit the matching rating in our poll. You will be able to see how your transfer program compares to the programs of other respondents.
Our transfer enrollment diagnostic
1. Do you have a formal enrollment management plan with goals and strategies specifically designed to reach, enroll, and retain more transfer students?
- Shaky: we do not currently have transfer-specific goals in our enrollment management plan
- Evolving: we do have transfer-specific goals in our enrollment management plan, but they are not supported by data-driven strategies
- Firm: our enrollment management plan has transfer-specific goals that are supported by data-driven strategies
- Rock solid: as part of our enrollment management plan, we systematically review and manage enrollment results and report out on transfer-specific goals
2. Do your president and senior leaders meet regularly with colleagues at your partner community colleges?
- Shaky: senior leadership does not meet with community colleges at this time
- Evolving: some progress has been made in connecting our senior leadership with peers at partner community colleges, but there is no regular pattern for these meetings
- Firm: the president and other senior leaders at my institution meet occasionally (at least once annually) with partner community colleges
- Rock solid: the president and other senior leaders prioritize meetings with colleagues at partner community college at least twice per year
3. Do you collect and share transfer enrollment and student success data with partner community colleges, resulting in improvements in transfer-friendliness (e.g. articulation, recruitment, transfer services, and/or advising)?
- Shaky: we do not currently report transfer student enrollment and success data to community college partners
- Evolving: we are in the process of creating transfer student enrollment and success reports to share with community colleges, or have done so in the past
- Firm: we have created transfer student enrollment and success reports and share this data with community colleges
- Rock solid: we regularly share transfer student enrollment and success data with partner community colleges at least annually; this data-sharing has resulted in the implementation of process or policy improvements
4. Do you post clear and easily accessible transfer instructions for students at partner community colleges both online and in print?
- Shaky: we currently do not have transfer preparation materials in both online and print formats
- Evolving: we are in the process of creating transfer-specific preparation materials that will be available in online and print formats
- Firm: we have established transfer-specific preparation materials in online and print form that include clear instructions
- Rock solid: we have established transfer-specific preparation materials in online and print forms that include clear instructions, and we use partner feedback to regularly analyze the efficacy of these materials
5. Has your institution signaled a strong commitment to transfer by creating both institution-wide and program-specific articulation agreements with partner community colleges?
- Shaky: we have not yet established institution-wide or program-specific agreements
- Evolving: we have established institution-wide agreements with at least one partner community college; we have a few program specific articulation agreements in place, but are not sure there is capacity for additional agreements
- Firm: we have established institution-wide agreements with most or all top partner community colleges; we have articulation agreements in place for most of our high-demand programs, and are investigating building additional agreements in the future
- Rock solid: we have established institution-wide agreements with all top partner community college; we have established—and regularly review—program-level articulation agreements for all high demand programs
6. Does your faculty support articulation efforts with partner community colleges and work to ensure ongoing program alignment?
- Shaky: there is little faculty support for program-level articulation efforts
- Evolving: some faculty support the development of program-level articulation and ongoing program alignment opportunities
- Firm: most faculty support the development of program-level articulation and ongoing program alignment opportunities
- Rock solid: our faculty support our transfer-friendly culture, program-level articulation, and ongoing program alignment between our institution and community college partners
7. Does your institution provide prospective transfer students with a searchable database of course equivalencies for commonly transferred courses prior to application?
- Shaky: we currently have not invested in automating our course equivalencies using searchable database tools
- Evolving: we have recently invested in, or are evaluating a near-term investment in, automating our course equivalencies
- Firm: we have an automated course equivalency database, but have not front-loaded community college and high transfer institution course catalogs
- Rock solid: we have a well-established automated course equivalency database and actively front-load it with community college and high transfer institutional course catalogs
8. Has your institution established transfer-specific scholarships for students who demonstrate academic achievement at their previous undergraduate institution or community college?
- Shaky: we currently do not have dedicated scholarships specific to transfer students
- Evolving: we are investigating or have recently established transfer-specific scholarships
- Firm: we have established multiple, competitive transfer-specific scholarships available to community college students based on academic achievement
- Rock solid: we have established multiple, competitive transfer-specific scholarships, including specifically named community college achievement awards that are widely publicized
9. Does your institution have dedicated transfer admissions counselor(s) that proactively reach out to partner community colleges?
- Shaky: we currently do not have dedicated transfer admissions counselors
- Evolving: we have some dedicated transfer admissions counselors, but the frequency of their on-campus visits are limited to one visit or less per semester
- Firm: we have dedicated transfer admissions counselors that provide on-campus recruitment and relationship-building visits two or more times per semester
- Rock solid: we have dedicated admissions resources that provide on-campus visits for recruitment and relationship- building activities at least 3 times per semester
10. Does your institution host community college advising staff on your campus?
- Shaky: we currently do not host community college advising staff on campus
- Evolving: we are considering hosting community college advising staff on campus or have hosted staff in the past, but this is not a regular practice
- Firm: we host community college advising staff on campus every few years, or we host annually but attendance is variable
- Rock solid: we regularly host community college advising staff on campus at least once annually with high-levels of engagement and information sharing
Not happy with your results? We can help.
EAB’s Transfer Collaborative Services can help you evaluate, plan, and strengthen your transfer student recruitment and enrollment.
More on transfer students
Only 25% of public and 33% of private four-year institutions reached their transfer targets in 2015-16. Learn how new technology and four recommendations from NACAC can help increase your school's transfer-friendliness.
Discover three ways enrollment managers collaborate with faculty to better serve transfer students without a major overhaul of existing credit articulation and registration policies.