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Building Great Transfer Partnerships | Beyond transfer

What really makes a good transfer partnership that benefits students? We have many reports and documents describing what should be done, but mere words are not enough. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry VIII“Speaking is not doing. It is a kind of good deed to speak well; and yet words are not deeds. Strong collaboration demonstrated by specific actions is what matters when working to do a difference in the student experience.

Available transfer information highlights the need for strong partnerships and collaboration between two- and four-year institutions. This includes joint marketing, advising, pathway development and student support that allow students to move seamlessly between institutions. There are calls for reduced time to completion, acceptance of more credits, financial aid and scholarships to support students as they transfer, and commitment of faculty to provide students with contacts on the campus.

In the “Transfer Reset” report, the Anti-Transfer (now Beyond Transfer) Policy Advisory Council called for “transfer pathways and transitions to be streamlined, beginning in K-12 and continuing through to labor market entry, eliminating the ‘transfer labyrinth'”. What actions can partner institutions take to build these types of courses for the benefit of students?

In my previous blog post, I reflected on creating a sense of belonging for students, even those in online programs. However, providing that sense of belonging and a strong support system is easier when there are in-person connections and conversations. This is where our university partnership shines, in the programs offered at Lorain County Community College by our four-year partners.

Lorain County University Partnership has a long-standing partnership with the University of Toledo in Computer Science and Engineering that models the actions and supports needed for a successful student transfer. This partnership has grown over the past 22 years to truly embody the hallmarks of collaboration and student success. Located in the LCCC University Partnership Ridge Campus (UPRC), the program offers students a clear path to graduate and enter the workforce. We have identified three clear strategies from this partnership that model the behaviors necessary for transfer student success.

Student-centered services with assigned guidance, available faculty, and clearly defined pathways

One of the hallmarks of the partnership between LCCC and Toledo is to provide strong support for students from people who have been in the program for long periods of time. Toledo provides LCCC Partnership students with an on-site assigned counselor who works out of the UPRC site. UPRC’s assigned Toledo advisor, Adrienne Aguilar, has been with the program since April 2001, its second semester. She also started as an advisor to the LCCC, so she has strong ties to both institutions. She devotes her time and energy to LCCC students, providing guided guidance and assistance throughout the program and working with the LCCC team of counselors to assist prospective students. The team of LCCC and Toledo faculty who work at UPRC have longevity with a track record of excellent instruction focused on student success. Weng Kang has been with the program since its inception, serving in many roles to help the program continue. Others have been in the program for long periods of time, providing strong support to students in each cohort. Their passion for teaching and dedication to the program strengthens the relationship and impacts student success. Additionally, the Toledo team works closely with the LCCC team, including faculty in the math and science division, counseling, financial aid, scholarships, and marketing, to ensure that students get what they need to complete the program. This teamwork and collaboration has resulted in over 230 students graduating since the program began in 2000. Several graduates have gone on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at Toledo, Cleveland State University, Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, John Hopkins and Harvard University, to name a few.

Consistency of student experience through cohort model, facilities and location

Students thrive when they know what to expect. Many UP students are older and work to support families or have other significant time commitments. Providing a consistent class schedule allows them to plan ahead while they work to complete their education. Toledo works with UP to provide the class schedule well in advance and, with a combination of in-person and distance learning, allowing students flexibility as they progress through the program. We also work closely to offer the same courses, lab experiences, computer lab access, counseling and experiential learning (co-op) opportunities on the UPRC site so that students receive the same education as if they went to the main campus in Toledo.

Scholarships and financial support

Finally, one of the main obstacles to transfer for students is the financing of the baccalaureate. Many LCCC students experience sticker shock when they move from community college to a four-year school. Many don’t know how to make it work without taking out loans. The LCCC and Toledo have collaborated to fund STEM scholarships through Ohio State’s Choose Ohio First Scholarships for these students, providing scholarships that allow students to complete the program.

The LCCC Foundation has also been providing a scholarship to these students totaling nearly $2.7 million since 2003. One student stated in his scholarship acceptance letter, “The upcoming opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from four years in the engineering field with nearly all of the costs covered was incredibly special. By funding these students, they can stay put, focus on their studies without working multiple jobs, and stay in touch with their cohort to complete the program.

In addition to offering scholarships, the overall structure of the course provides students with savings of over $40,000 compared to students who attend Toledo for all four years. Combined with scholarships and the ability to stay local, the overall cost of the degree is significantly reduced, eliminating financial barriers for many students.

Finally, the Toledo program conforms to the LCCC acquisition and learning model. Students in the program must complete three semesters of cooperation with a local employer as part of their degree. As with students at the Toledo campus, LCCC partner students complete a professional development course and receive co-op placement assistance from staff at the Shah Engineering Career Development Center in Toledo. Many receive full-time job offers from their co-op employers after graduating. This allows students to work in their chosen field and earn an income while pursuing their license with Toledo, which can potentially cover more tuition.

LCCC CSE students have been employed by many local companies such as Ridge Tool, LCCC, RW Beckett, Hyland, Sherwin-Williams, IBM and NASA Glenn, and even further afield with companies such as the National Security Agency, Intel, the FDA, Expedia. , Hewlett Packard, Disney and Google. Graduates are often offered full-time employment by their cooperative business after graduation. This aligns well with LCCC’s goal of educating and retaining resident talent to help support the local economy. Additionally, many students can graduate debt-free or with money in the bank thanks to the benefits of partnership and its reduced attendance, scholarship, and co-op costs!

By working together to provide clear, consistent and affordable options for LCCC students, this partnership provides a shining example of what is possible for transfer students. Toledo’s computer science and engineering program is one of nine programs in the country and one of two in Ohio. Students in the program express their appreciation for having access to a top-notch CSE program close to home.

** Additional partnership information can be found here: https://www.lorainccc.edu/up/toledocse/

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