A smooth transition

Agreements with community colleges make transferring to BGSU easier

BGSU-Transition

By: Terri McCullough

Less than 25 percent of Ohioans have a bachelor's degree-a statistic that is causing government and prospective employers a great deal of concern when it comes to an educated workforce. With Governor John Kasich emphasizing the need for more college graduates, with a shorter time to degree completion, universities across the state are being called upon to do more. Rising to the challenge, BGSU has increased its outreach to prospective students by adding online programs, making it easier to transfer from community colleges, and connecting with international students.

Staff members from BGSU's Division of Enrollment Management are taking steps to make students' journey to BGSU a little easier. This includes working closely with state community colleges to develop Institutional Articulation Agreements (IAA), increasing BGSU's presence at the community colleges by holding transfer and recruitment fairs, enhancing online resources, and even placing BGSU academic advisers on-site several times a week at select community colleges in the region.

Earlier this year, a team began an outreach campaign that lasted through the summer, concluding in September. Albert Colom, vice president for enrollment management; Marcia Salazar-Valentine, executive director, Division of Enrollment Management, and Barbara Henry, assistant vice president for Nontraditional and Transfer Student Services, visited 22 community colleges throughout Ohio, with the goal of formulating articulation agreements to facilitate the transfer of their students to BGSU.

To date, 14 agreements have been signed, with another eight in the process of being completed.

"Those IAAs are the first step to pave the way for students to transfer more easily to BGSU," said Salazar-Valentine. "The second step is to develop discipline specific articulation guides."

IAAs focus on the general education equivalencies between the institutions. In addition, a discipline-specific guide would enable the transfer of course credit for those students majoring in a specific subject. Developing a guide requires faculty members from both institutions to collaborate in evaluating the specific curriculum of that discipline to see if the classes are equivalent and meet the degree requirements. This involves colleges and departments reaching out to the community college, hoping their efforts will ultimately increase the number of students transferring into their own programs. Some of the discipline-specific articulation agreements that are in the works are:

  • Computer Science (with Lorain County Community College)
  • Telecommunications (Lorain County Community College)
  • Business Administration (with Marion Technical College)
  • Inclusive Early Childhood (with Owens Community College), Terra State College, Northwest State College)
  • Fire Administration (with multiple community colleges)

BGSU will continue to pursue more discipline-specific articulation guides throughout this academic year.

The University's commitment to strengthening existing partnerships and developing new relationships with state community colleges and their students has been the main focus of Henry and her staff. They have been busy traveling to the campuses of state community colleges. Henry notes that simplifying the transfer process has been a focus of not only BGSU, but also the state.

"The state of Ohio has been a leader in the nation in promoting the idea that introductory courses at any community college or traditional four-year university should be transferrable to other Ohio institutions," she explained. "More than a decade ago, the state created the Ohio Transfer Module, a set of general education courses required at most public colleges and universities. The state wants to move past just basic courses transferring to also include early major courses. The Ohio Board of Regents has done a lot to address these transfer challenges.

"It was really a great experience to see what the state of Ohio has done with community colleges to serve local students, and expand their access to higher education," Henry said.

Faculty from both BGSU and state community colleges are working hard to make the transfer process as easy as possible, so students know exactly which classes that will transfer.

"It's important that we make this process easy to understand," noted Salazar-Valentine. "When students know what classes will transfer, it saves them time to degree and money."

BGSU also participates in the transfer fairs the community colleges hold for their students, where the community colleges host multiple four-year public and private institutions to their campus.

In addition to hosting the traditional, BGSU-based transfer fair, Henry and her staff took a scaled-down version of the event on the road. Earlier this year, they held a transfer reception at Columbus State Community College. Columbus State called it Destination Day, and promoted it heavily on its campus. Approximately 20 tables were set up, each representing an aspect of BGSU life, both social and academic.

"We had 125-150 of their students attend this event," said Henry. "Representatives from college offices, targeted majors, multicultural affairs, online programs, financial aid and international student services were on hand to give CSCC students a firsthand look at BGSU life. Our office could not have pulled off this highly successful event without the tremendous collaboration with several offices on campus."

Enrollment Management is also near completion of a webpage for students wishing to transfer to BGSU. Students will be able to go online and see what courses they are taking, or will take, at their community college that will transfer to BGSU. This will help them preplan their courses so that they reduce the time to degree, and in turn, save money. The beta version of this resource should be available in April.

Plans for Enrollment Management include organizing outreach to community colleges in Michigan and Indiana. They are also working on another agreement called the Pathways Program, with Owens Community College. "This is a broader, more comprehensive program," said Salazar-Valentine, "that works with several BGSU offices such as the Registrar's Office, Financial Aid, Registration and Records to make it easier for Owens students to get to BGSU. "