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Why the first year is most important for transfer

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I would like to go back and give my young man everything I learned about the transfer after a successful transition from a public college, a bachelor’s and a graduate degree, and now conducting research in a public college.

When I went to public college, I felt lost. I didn’t know how to decide which classes to take. I wasn’t sure why and whether I needed a junior degree to transition. And I certainly had no idea what I wanted to do as soon as I got my degree. I wanted – and needed – support to decide on my program, help figure out which extracurricular activities to attend and how long I can last, information on what I can do with my degree, and ways to connect with colleagues to travel together. Unfortunately, all I had on the first day was a list of courses to choose from and an ambiguous attitude towards counselors who gave me conflicting suggestions every time I attended classes.

The fact is that many students who start studying in a public college feel the same way. In an interview with incoming students, the Community College Research Center found that students want support explore programs of study, potential majors and careers, and connect with other people of interest to them. They also want to be able to take courses that interest them in the first semester, and develop a complete educational plan. All of these activities are important not only for the student’s overall learning experience in a public college, but also for their ability to communicate. Approximately 40 percent of students are nationwide cannot continue in the second year of a public college, and the results are much worse for blacks, Hispanics, Indigenous people, and low-income students. Now there is a transfer reducing the number of students in all demographic groups. If students do not continue their studies, they will not be able to transfer, so making the transfer fairer in all respects means investing in the first year of students’ study at a public college.

Based on research we are conducting on reforms driven by all colleges in more than 100 public colleges across the country, the CCRC has developed Ask-Connect-Inspire-Plan (ACIP) framework., which aims to ensure that students enroll in the program of study in accordance with their interests and goals during the first year. ACIP helps students explore interests and options; connect with faculty, professionals, and other students with similar interests; take a course that ignites their fire for learning in the first semester; and build a complete educational plan of the program that shows their required courses and deadlines to complete.

Successful transfer requires a strong start, and the ACIP framework aims to provide public colleges with the tools to ensure that students have a strong start. By implementing ACIP practices, public colleges can invest in first-year students, which can have a big impact on retention, completion and transfer. This is because if students are helped to study ways of learning in college according to their interests and strengths, enjoy their courses, create a curriculum and connect with people in their field, they are more likely to continue their studies in their second year. in a public college, rather than drop out before you have the opportunity to apply for a transfer.

The ACIP framework focuses on rethinking the adaptation program for first-year students:

  • Ask: Each student has an ongoing conversation about their interests, strengths, aspirations, and life circumstances in order to help them explore programs of study and career paths that fit their goals.
  • Connectivity: From the outset, colleges organize opportunities for each student to meet faculty, students, alumni, and employers in areas of interest to them, and to access college and community resources that can help support their needs.
  • Inspiration: Each student takes at least one course per semester on interesting topics that ignite their fire for learning.
  • Plan: By the end of the first semester, each student is helped to develop a full-time educational plan that shows them the way to their goals.

Collaborative colleges cannot independently create an effective Ask-Connect-Inspire-Plan experience for students. Without the involvement of four-year partners, community colleges would not be able to tell students which courses to take to successfully transition into the curriculum or connect them with communities that will remain relevant to them in their four-year program. college Four-year institutions need to work with community colleges to ensure that they (1) provide up-to-date information on which community college courses will be transferred to the program so students can graduate without extra credit and (2) create opportunities to get up early. connect community college students to the university. This will improve the students ’experience in the first two years and ensure that after the transition they will be better equipped to adapt to their new campus. A four-year institution should be part of every student’s experience long before his or her transition.

Too often the discussion of translation stops at what many students want to translate, but few do. The Ask-Connect-Inspire-Plan framework encourages practices that, especially when implemented in a partnership between two- and four-year colleges, can support more students in achieving their transfer goal. More successful transfers are possible with key investments in first year students at a public college.


Umika Kumar is a Research Fellow at the Community College Research Center, located at Columbia University Teachers College. It focuses on a fair adaptation program and how colleges implement managed pathway reforms across the country. Kumar has a master’s degree. in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She received a certificate in leadership and social change from De Anza College, which she attended for two years before transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. You can follow her on @Umika Kumar on Twitter.

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