INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE
To be signed by the president or chancellor of a community college partner intending to join the Transfer Scholars Network.
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.
Traditionally, regional public universities have represented more affordable, accessible options for community college transfer students to complete their higher education journey and graduate with a four-year degree. Community colleges and high-graduation-rate four-year colleges and universities, institutions with six-year graduation rates of at least 70 percent, have both an imperative and opportunity to come together and expand the community college transfer pipeline. Just three percent of community college transfers from the Fall 2017 cohort enrolled at selective schools.
The current partners in the Transfer Scholars Network have served 372 students from January 2021-March 2022, exchanging promising practices to address transfer-related challenges, increasing awareness about financial aid and transfer-centered resources, and elevating the imperative to serve more community college transfers nationwide. specifically those from communities of color and lower-income backgrounds.
To build on these gains and make further progress, the Transfer Scholars Network will continue to focus on three major activities:
- Building and scaling an ecosystem where community colleges, four-year institutions, and intermediary organizations are work together to identify, recruit, and guide prospective transfer students through the transfer admissions process.
- Executing a 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.
- Launching a student-facing application process that provides four-year partners with key demographic and academic information from those community college students to ensure they make early, critical connections to those prospective transfers and ultimately encourage them to apply to their 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 a 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.