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Transfer programs provide opportunities for community college students

At the February Board of Trustees meeting, one trustee made an interesting comment regarding transfer students. You can read the transcript here. In this section, the executives explained their plans to develop a “university center” on campus. The University Center should make the process of transferring to a four-year institution easier.

During the presentation, Trustee Dianna McKnight-Morton implied that the University of Michigan would not be interested in participating in the WCC University Center. The relationship between four-year universities and two-year colleges is a little more complex than that. In fact, U of M provides transfer advising on the WCC campus for students who want to transfer there.

About one-third of first-time students who enroll in a community college enroll at a four-year institution within six years. About one-third of those transferers -or about 11% of all first-time entrants – leave the community college with a degree (or other credential) before transferring.

Contrary to what at least one WCC trustee believes, four-year universities – including the University of Michigan – want transfer students from WCC and other community colleges. Community colleges often have a higher proportion of minority and low-income students than four-year institutions do. For four-year universities, a community college provides a rich vein of students that can help diversify a university’s student body. In addition, the universities can find students with a demonstrated and reliable academic record.

Instead of being the sticking point that Trustee McKnight-Morton imagines, the University Center could help place WCC students (or alumni) into four-year degree programs at a variety of higher education institutions. Better still, WCC could encourage students working through a transfer program to finish their WCC degree before leaving.

Photo Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, via Flickr