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Is Your Junior Class as Big as Your Freshmen Class?

Is Your Junior Class as Big as Your Freshmen Class?

Jim Hundrieser is the associate managing principal of AGB Institutional Strategies, which focuses on new business models in higher education.

Many four-year colleges and universities are rethinking the ways in which they recruit, enroll, retain, and graduate more college students.  One question to ask is if your institution’s junior class is as large as its freshmen class? In other words, are as many students transferring into your institution as may be leaving?

When thinking about enrollment, transfer students are an untapped opportunity for most campuses today, particularly those students that transfer from a community college to a four-year institution. 

Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States attend community colleges. These open-access institutions serve a diverse student population and provide more affordable and flexible options to meet the needs of a changing student demographic.  Of the 7.3 million students attending community colleges for credit (with 2.8 million attending full-time), only 795,000 students earn their associates degree. 

But the difference in those two figures isn’t necessarily a completion problem: many students transfer to a four-year institution. 

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 35 percent of all students who attended a public four-year college or university enrolled with some community college credits.

Below, tips for campuses considering increasing their focus on transfer students.

  • Ask how easy it is for a potential student to learn what courses will transfer in and be applied toward a degree.
  • Create a transfer-student-specific application.
  • Dedicate a section of your website to potential transfer students, that outlines costs and time-to-degree when coming to campus with existing credits.
  • Focus less on 2+2 agreements and more on transfer course agreements, which often can facilitate more transfers than a formal program that targets students only at the two-year mark.  (Each campus should assess its own data to determine its unique enrollment trends.)

With dedicated efforts, campuses can build their transfer enrollment, as well as show their support for nationwide initiatives to increase and improve completion rates. 

Rethinking some of your institution's long-held strategies? Consider attending New Business Models for Higher Education: A Focus on Prosperity in a Challenging Competitive Environment on September 26, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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