Transfer School Network


    To be signed by the president or chancellor of a community college partner intending to join the Transfer Scholars Network, initially as a part of the affiliate program, in Spring 2023.

    The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, with support of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is working to expand transfer pipelines for high-achieving community college students to high-graduation-rate four-year colleges and universities.

    Four-year institutions nationwide are seeking to reverse two years of enrollment declines. With the number of graduating high school seniors also falling each year, there is a clear need to expand and diversify recruitment pipelines. To start, more than 700,000 students from diverse socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds entering community colleges each year intend to transfer and attain a bachelor’s degree.

    Unfortunately, just 14 percent of them transfer, deterred by a perceived lack of affordability, a complex application process, and unclear information about the transfer experience. For context, in any given year, at least 50,000 low- and moderate-income community college students with the academic credentials to excel in our most competitive colleges ultimately do not transfer, with 15,000 of these students earning at least a 3.7 GPA or higher. Even for those who successfully transfer, they must navigate a maze of barriers when on campus, including unclear credit transfer practices and limited, transfer-specific resources.

    Since launching as a pilot in January 2021, the Transfer Scholars Network has drawn on the collective wisdom of 21 community colleges and highly selective, high-graduation-rate four-year institutions to help more students overcome those barriers and realize their transfer aspirations. Just three percent of community college transfers from the Fall 2017 cohort enrolled at selective schools.

    Collectively, TSN partners have served more than 500 students over two transfer admission cycles, working in tandem to address transfer-related challenges and increase student awareness about financial aid and transfer-centered resources.

    To build on these gains and make further progress, the Transfer Scholars Network will introduce a new pathway to participation for prospective community college partners in 2023:

    • Joining as "Affiliates," implementing small-scale TSN activities in Spring and Summer 2023. As affiliates, new partners can take the time needed to mobilize their staff, organize their internal TSN efforts, and still contribute to the TSN partner network and the student pool midway through the TSN cycle. We encourage affiliates to focus their initial outreach on a specific subset of students, reaching between 20-30 total students by Summer 2023. Following a successful pilot phase, Affiliates will be designated and promoted as "Community College Partners" in the next TSN cycle (Fall 2023) and expected to scale up institutional efforts based on lessons learned in the Affiliate phase and TSN's collective approaches indicated below.
    • Executing a full-scale student nomination campaign, initiated by community college senior leaders and driven by a belief in the promise of early, proactive outreach, to effectively reach community college students and seed their interest in transfer to high-graduation-rate colleges and universities, especially those institutions offering substantial financial aid.
    • Supporting nominated students who may apply for transfer admission in Spring 2024 or Fall 2024, connecting those students to the four-year partners and other resources to ensure they make early, and informed decisions about transfer and transfer destinations, and ultimately encourage them to apply to TSN partners and other four-year institutions

    All of our institutions have a role to play in developing America’s diverse talent. We’re excited by the prospect of what we can continue to achieve as a collective, a belief at the center of the ecosystem we are building through the Transfer Scholars Network. We welcome you to join us as an Affiliate member of this growing network and strengthen your commitment to supporting the success of America’s community college transfer students.

    By signing below, I affirm that:

    • My institution will perform the activities as a member of the Transfer Scholars Network, joining virtual engagements, conducting outreach to and supporting prospective transfer students, and sharing details and feedback regarding student outreach (among other relevant activities that may arise).
    • My institution will identify a point of contact to liaise with the Aspen Institute and other Network institutions to support the above activities.
    • My institution will commit to working with the Network to improve transfer practice and establish clearer academic pathways, reducing barriers to successful transfer.
    • My institution gives permission to the Aspen Institute and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to use its logo for a list of participating Network institutions on the Network website and in all externally facing collateral promoting the initiative.
  • You will receive a PDF copy via email for your records.