Structuring Community College Transfer to Support Upward Economic Mobility
In this report to the ECMC Foundation, MDC examines transfer practices and experiences at four Southern community colleges, observing how institutional practices, federal and state policies, and student mindset and behavior affect transfer students. Read the Report
Higher education is a cornerstone of civic and personal advancement in the United States, promising connections with knowledge, skills, and networks that can lead to high-paying work. This system boasts—but does not always deliver—equal opportunity to rise out of poverty and accumulate wealth and build economic security.
Across the country, however, states are struggling to reach goals for bachelor's degree completion and to improve stalled upward economic mobility, especially for those born into poverty. The problem is particularly stark in the South, where educational attainment lags national averages, income inequality is highest, and the odds of economic mobility are lowest. The chances of being stuck in the lowest income bracket decrease with a postsecondary credential.
Community colleges have long been important institutions for strengthening postsecondary attainment, awarding credentials that can lead to better paying jobs or form the foundation for additional credentials, including a bachelor's degree. With lower tuition costs and, ideally, an accessible pathway to a bachelor's degree via transfer to a four-year university, community colleges can still be launching-pad institutions that change the education and economic trajectory for individuals and families.
Recent research indicates, however, that ensuring successful student transfer and bachelor's degree attainment following transfer remains a challenge for both two-year and four-year institutions across the United States.
We conducted interviews and focus groups with college administrators, faculty, staff, and students; reviewed print and online resources, state articulation agreements, transfer-related policies; and conducted an online survey of advising staff.
We reported our findings around four themes:
Our recommendations are:
For more information, contact Program Director Abby Parcell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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