Written by Amber Thomas, Director of Transfer and Academic Partnerships
Monday kicked off National Transfer Student Week, an initiative led by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer to build awareness of the barriers, struggles, and accomplishments common to our diverse transfer student population.
This is CCS ‘third year joining in the celebration of our own unique transfer student community and the benefit they bring to our campus, to Michigan, and to higher education as a whole.
In the spirit of the week, we highlight the pride we have in our transfer students and look at how transfer itself is an equity issue.
Over one third of the students attending CCS are transfers and we have countless successful transfer alumni. Our transfer student body is diverse in age and background, joining us from around the globe and down the street. Most transfers in Michigan (including the majority of our transfer students at CCS) will start their undergraduate studies at another institution within the state – community college being their most common point of entry. Many have commitments beyond those of our incoming freshmen, and may already be familiar with the ‘hustle’ of work / life balance. By choosing to join our undergraduate community, they are making a substantial commitment to themselves and to our creative economy.
Shifts in the higher education landscape have accelerated rapidly in the past two decades, elevating the topic of transfer student needs and a system that often yields inconsistent to poor returns for students and colleges. Renewed investment in transfer students’ role and degree attainment comes at a time when so much of the college experience is also being re-envisioned; providing us with an opportunity to explore new ways of ensuring a student-centric process.
It is vital that we celebrate the students who have made this transition successfully and ensure they have the means, support, tools, and resources, specific to their needs, to complete their educational goals.
Persisting Barriers to Transfer
I can count myself among the many transfer students that would have loved to start first at CCS. I applied and was even accepted as a freshman out of high school (Thanks, Sabrina!). For a myriad of reasons, this was not in the cards. I first attended a community college, then transferred to a university before I committed to attending here. All in all it took me nearly nine years to earn my BFA. Granted, I changed my major three times and took a semester hiatus to have my son. Course sequencing, limited offerings, and duplicative courses provided additional setbacks. With compounding loan interest and in time lost, I’ve paid more than I want to admit for my degree, even if I would do it all again. Well, almost all – that duplicative coursework was particularly frustrating.
My story is common and even privileged by many accounts. I had family members who had gone to college to help guide me. Most of my family was supportive of my pursuit of art and design. I worked my way through college, but I had help. I also had that luxury and the benefit of attending at a time when financial aid in the US went considerably farther than it does for today’s students.
Transfer and Inclusion
Higher education provides a proven pathway to social mobility, to generational wealth, and to closing inequity gaps, but only when it is available to all who want it. When it works, the transfer path offers one of the few avenues to degree completion that is accessible to all.
New doors are opening all the time, and larger, more inclusive conversations are happening everywhere I look. Transfer is making national news and headlines. Here, at home, I see the introduction of new ‘transfer friendly’ programs, collaborative efforts and an understanding of the urgency by our leadership. There is work being done to provide innovative online courses, rethinking delivery modes and timelines, and there are enthusiastic and encouraging transfer advocates across CCS who are seeking to provide room for these students at our table.
With advances in education tools and learning modules, along with support from our accreditors to act, we have unparalleled opportunities to re-envision transfer; particularly at colleges of art and design. The transfer pipeline, at CCS and beyond, is helping those who need it most, but we know we can do more. We renew our commitment to this work today by elevating the accomplishments of the students who have already navigated this complex path in order to join the muster *.
* muster (n.): a group of peacocks.
Are you part of the Transfer Community at CCS? Join us to celebrate NTSW!
Events this week:
Pride Kickoff transfer
11 am-1pm in front of the Yamasaki Building
NTSW Advising and Career Development Panel
11: 30-12: 30 in the WB Auditorium
Transfer Advising Ford Campus
11:30 am-12:30pm in YAM A010
Transfer Students Dinner
7pm in W217
Transfer Advising Taubman Center
11:30 am-12:30pm in T610