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A Win-Win in Higher Education: Reverse Transfer Rewards Everyone

Posted on 11/25/2013 by AcademyOne Insights

Nationally representative data shows that 78% of students who transfer from community college to four-year institutions do so prior to graduation. Yet research indicates having an associate degree appears to incentivize transfer students toward completing a bachelor’s degree.

A recent study reveals 72% of community college transfer students who earned an associate degree prior to transfer went on to complete a bachelor’s – a 16% greater attainment rate than those without an associate degree.

So what can we do to increase associate degree completion among community college students who plan to transfer?  And how can we improve persistence among the students who transfer to four-year schools without an associate degree?  The answer lies in a promising practice called “reverse transfer,” which facilitates the award of associate degrees after students transfer to four-year colleges or universities.  During the reverse transfer process, credits earned at the four-year school are transferred back to the community college to satisfy associate degree requirements.

The benefits of reverse transfer are widespread, rewarding everyone involved:

-       Students are recognized for their achievements with a marketable credential, making them more likely to persist toward and complete a bachelor’s degree.  And for students who work to support an education, the associate degree becomes an especially valuable asset.  It is the nation’s fastest growing workforce credential.  Those who earn one are qualified for better job opportunities that will make their college experience more affordable. 

-       Community Colleges are fully credited for the education they provide and, accordingly, increase their completion rates significantly as reverse transfer students fulfill their associate degree requirements. 

-       Four-year Institutions boost their retention rates and motivate students through positive reinforcement and the recognition of work that has already been completed.  They also strengthen partnerships with their area community colleges, receiving more student referrals from two-year transfer advisors. 

-       The Economy grows stronger and more competitive on local, state and national levels with a proven, properly credentialed workforce.

-       Everyone (the nation, states, higher education organizations and all institutions) can advance their respective degree completion goals and pay-for-performance agendas.  We would certainly make great strides toward meeting national completion goals, considering the community college graduation rate would jump to roughly 40% from 18% if they could count their transfer students who earned at least 30 credits prior to transfer. 

Just last year, several funding organizations came together under the “Credit When It’s Due” initiative, issuing millions of dollars in grants to support higher education systems and institutions in the development of reverse transfer policies and practices.  But because reverse transfer is still a relatively new concept in higher education, little has been done so far to actually streamline the process and reduce the workload for the institutions – but AcademyOne has the software development expertise within higher education to change that.

AcademyOne can help systemize the award of reverse transfer associate degrees by developing solutions that expedite and even automate processes such as:

-       Identification of eligible students

-       Notification to student of eligibility

-       FERPA-compliant transmission of student transcripts

-       Prospective degree audit to validate equivalencies

-       Notification to student of degree award

Read more about our services.  We have the right people, processes, technology and industry knowledge to craft efficient and successful reverse transfer solutions.  

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