Completion and Transfer: Partners in Student Success

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Scheherazade W. Forman, EdD Dean for Student Development Services, provides strategic leadership for Advising and Transfer Services, Retention Services and Counseling Services at Prince George’s Community College through a proactive participatory style of management.

Tyjaun A. Lee, Ph.D. Vice President for Student Services arrived at Prince George’s Community College and provides strategic college-wide leadership and operational oversight for all activities related to enrollment and student services, ensuring consistency, responsiveness and excellence.

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Scheherazade W. Foreman, Ed.d. Dean, Student Development Services, PGCC
Tyjaun A. Lee, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Services, Prince George CC
Abstract: 

This article presents one institution methods for meeting the charge given by the President of the United States. Prince George’s Community College uses a variety of methods to ensure students are able to transfer to four year institutions in the state of Maryland.  

Article: 

Introduction
With the establishment of President Barack Obama’s goal of returning the United States to the number one country to grant degrees, attention has now been directed at two-year institutions. The completion agenda has forced institutions to reexamine their transfer and articulation agreements. These agreements allow students who complete their associate’s degree, the opportunity to obtain a baccalaureate degree.
Two-year institutions have a long history of providing diverse methods for individuals to meet their educational goals. In order for this to be accomplished, two-year institutions have established transfer and articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities (Townsend & Ignash, 2000). These agreements have allowed students to complete an associate’s degree or certificate and seamlessly move into a baccalaureate program within a four-year institution (Anderson, Alfonso, & Sun, 2006).
Partnerships

In the state of Maryland, there are 16 community colleges who participate in a voluntary consortium to facilitate the collective legislation and goals for statewide issues that would benefit the citizens of Maryland. The Maryland Association of Community Colleges provides legislative support in order to ensure representation within the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MACC, 2011). This consortium allows the Presidents to meet on a regular basis to discuss various issues that are consistent across all the institutions. In addition, this body was the first organization to host a summit that focused on the completion agenda. One key component of this summit was the signing of “Call to Action” by all of the Maryland community college Presidents. This document describes the commitment of each institution to meeting the completion agenda.

A Story of One Institution

As the fourth largest community college in Maryland, Prince George’s Community College offers a variety of transfer and articulation programs to assist students in transferring to four-year institutions within the state of Maryland. Prince George’s Community College credit enrollment averages 14,000 credit students; therefore, it is imperative that the institution makes transferring to a four-year institution accessible. On average Prince George’s Community College students, after four years of enrollment, transfer at the rate of 20% (MHEC, 2010).

The transfer conversations continue between academic and student affairs, during frequent meetings held by the curriculum committee. During these meetings, the manager for articulation and transfer is able to guide the conversation when changes are being made to the institution’s curriculum. It is important for the faculty to understand the correlation between course changes and transfer requirements to the four-year institution.

Most often these students transfer to the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP), and Bowie State University. Each of these institutions has a different approach to recruiting adult learners. For example, UMUC maintains a presence on campus, by maintaining office hours within the advising center. Maintaining office hours is not a part of the formal agreement, but is valued by the staff and students who seek specific guidance on transfer. UMCP has designed a program entitled Maryland Transfer Advantage Program (MTAP); this is a visiting student program that allows the students to become acclimated to the institution before they transfer to the institution. MTAP guarantees admission to the college after a student successfully completes the program. The student is eligible for transfer because the criteria for transfer are reflected in the successful completion of MTAP.

The formal college articulation program began as advisor visits and was initiated at UMCP by Dr. Walter Hohenstein. The concept was later coordinated through the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). MHEC continues to establish and administer policy for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The transfer rules are formally identified in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). The early day of advisor visits have formally become Transfer Day. During Transfer Day advisors from every four-year public school visit every community college each fall and spring semester. Students are able to meet with advisors from the four-year institution during a four hour block of time.
In order to maximize the use of technology, the college uses ARTSYS, the on-line transfer articulation system. This system allows students, parents, faculty, and staff to identify course equivalencies for the preferred transfer program. Students are able to use the system as a guide as they are preparing their course sequence at Prince George’s Community College. Students are able to meet with advisors from the four-year institution during a four hour block of time.
Conclusion
As community colleges attempt to fulfill the completion agenda goals, it is imperative that we create and sustain partnerships that will allow students to meet their educational goals. These partnerships should include academic affairs as well as the use of technology, given the limited resources available to community colleges. Such partnerships will prevent students from getting lost in the transfer process and in contrast students will have an experience that equips them for the transition from the community college to the four-year college or university.

References
Anderson, G.M, Alfonso, M, & Sun, J.C. (2006). Rethinking cooling out at public community colleges: An examination of fiscal and demographic trends in higher education and the rise of statewide articulation agreements. Teachers College Record, 108(3), 422-451.
Maryland Association of Community Colleges. (2011). About MACC. Retrieved April 11, 2011, from http://mdacc.org/about/about.html
Maryland Higher Education Commission. (2010). Retention, Graduation, and Transfer Rates at Maryland Community Colleges. Retrieved April 11, 2011, from http://www.mhec.state.md.us/publications/research/AnnualReports/2010RetG...
Townsend, B.K., & Ignash, J.M. (2000). Assumptions about transfer behavior in state-level articulation agreements: Realistic or reactionary? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Sacramento, CA.