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Community college transfer partnership boosts university enrollment

A transfer partnership between George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and local community colleges is boosting enrollment. The university works with nine area community colleges to create a pipeline of students seeking health science careers.

The five-year-old program has increased enrollment at GW’s medical school. According to GW’s senior associate dean for health sciences, the transfer partnership provides a “clear and direct” pathway for transfer students to complete a four year degree.

The transfer partnership guarantees admission to students who have a 2.75 GPA and have earned a C or better in transfer courses. The agreement has also increased the diversity of students in the GW program. According to officials at GW, enrollment in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences has also increased by 15% since the program’s inception.

In 2018, GWU received a $3.1M grant to facilitate collaboration between GW and three local community colleges. Students from those colleges receive grant-funded support, including advising, mentoring and scholarships.

In addition, GW worked with its GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development to identify barriers transfer students faced. They also looked at factors that increased student success. Using the information, they adjusted the transfer program to help students succeed once they moved to GW. One such adjustment eliminated the need for students to retake coursework they had already taken at the community college. The program enables students to earn four-year degrees and specialized certificates from GW, making students more marketable upon graduation.

Transfer partnership can increase enrollment, diversity

When community college students have a clear, direct path to achieve their educational goals, enrollment increases. While GW is seeing specific enrollment gains, its feeder network is also seeing enrollment gains. When students in the transfer program meet certain, well-understood criteria, they know they’re guaranteed admission to a highly recognizable four-year degree-granting institution.

The program works for both the community college partners and for GW. It also provides GW with an important source of minority and disadvantaged students. Recent court rulings have made it more difficult for universities to locate and recruit minority and disadvantaged students. The very students universities are increasingly desperate to find are clustered at community colleges. Building transfer programs not only encourages students to complete their educational goals, but also provides institutions with the diversity they’re looking for.

These programs also boost enrollment at both institutions without having to resort to real estate development and other mission-irrelevant revenue generation schemes. By focusing on the mission of the College, community colleges can both increase their enrollment and help their communities at the same time.

If WCC isn’t creating similar transfer partnership prgorams, and the Board of Trustees is not demanding this approach before wasting millions on useless construction, it is time to re-evaluate the leadership at all levels of the College.

Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov, via Flickr