Ready for the Transfer Wave?

By Marc Cutright

Community college enrollments continue to swell across the country, and a substantial portion of this growth comes from the presence of students who, maybe just a year or two ago, never thought they’d be there instead of going directly to the university from which they intend to earn a bachelor’s degree. But the financial squeeze has come from two directions.

The first is the general economy, in which college savings have dwindled, jobs have disappeared, and the odds of a fast recovery seem remote. The second is the reaction on the part of many institutions and systems, a reaction to their own fiscal problems, to raise tuition rates even beyond the inflationary patterns of decades. The tipping point is starting to show up in the rearview mirror.

These new community college students, however, still intend to get the bachelor’s degree, even if there’s an unanticipated detour on the route. So it is likely that we’ll see even stronger growth in demand for transfer credit acceptance. The issue is that students entering higher education through community colleges generally have not been as successful at getting four-year degrees. We’re trying to push more students through a decidedly leaky pipeline.

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