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posted: 3/5/2014 12:47 PM

Colleges work to smooth transfer path

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With a variety of offerings, programs and services, community colleges strive to meet all the educational needs of their local communities. One of the most well-known programs of institutions like Waubonsee is the transfer degree option for students looking to transfer to a four-year college or university.

Transfer education has always been central to the community college mission and has taken on additional significance during the recent economic downturn. Many students have decided to stretch their educational dollar further by starting at a two-year institution, while many four-year students have taken needed classes over the summer or online through a community college. In fact, a recent study by the National Student Clearinghouse found that 45 percent of all students who finished a bachelor's degree in 2010-11 had previously enrolled at a community college for at least one semester.

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While many students may be initially attracted to community colleges because of the lower cost, they also find excellent academic quality and a full student life experience. More than 92 percent of faculty at Waubonsee hold a master's or doctoral degree and combine this with years of industry-related experience and a love for teaching. Outside of the classroom, students are involved in honor societies, athletics, student government, and many clubs and activities.

With so many students relying on community colleges for at least part of their academic journey, there are ongoing efforts to keep the paths between two- and four-year schools as smooth as possible. Waubonsee's counselors and academic advisers are in constant contact with their counterparts at universities to ensure the credits students earn here will count at their four-year destination. Students transferring to schools in Illinois have even more assurance, thanks to the Illinois Articulation Initiative, a major statewide agreement among more than 100 participating colleges and universities. Waubonsee's transfer courses are approved through the IAI approval process. To learn more about the IAI, visit itransfer.org.

In addition to the day-to-day work focused on transferability, Waubonsee has also been involved in some special efforts recently. Last year, we participated in the national Foundations of Excellence® self-study project, with a focus on the transfer student experience. After gathering data from students, faculty and staff, several transfer-related recommendations were made. Action teams are now hard at work to help implement improvements centered on items such as the collection, organization and dissemination of transfer-related resources.

Faculty, of course, play a critical role in colleges' transfer efforts as they work to academically prepare students for their futures. Beyond the teaching they do in the classroom, faculty also network with colleagues at four-year institutions to ensure Waubonsee's courses align with degrees at potential transfer institutions.

Collaboration with four-year institutions happens at every level of community colleges and often results in special articulation/transfer agreements that ease students' transitions and provide additional incentives and opportunities. Earlier this month, Waubonsee joined Governors State University's Dual Degree Program, which benefits students at 11 area community colleges. Participating students are able to take advantage of a GSU tuition rate that is frozen when they enter their freshman year, as well as compete for special scholarships. GSU's Naperville Education Center presents a convenient option for many Waubonsee district residents.

GSU is just the latest college to partner with Waubonsee for the benefit of students. To learn about other articulation agreements and transfer opportunities, visit www.waubonsee.edu/transfer. Start, continue and finish your higher educational journey with the help of your local community college.

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