Across the country, efforts are growing to build a community college pipeline that will help students transition from community college to four-year institutions seamlessly and with greater success.
Xavier University of Louisiana has received a three-year, $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to do just that.
The grant will help support initiatives designed to expand the university’s community college pipeline and to establish a new summer bridge program.
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The grant will fund ongoing university efforts to engage and enroll more community college students by streamlining its transfer administrative process, clarifying course and major requirements, and reducing any course-related hindrances to graduating in four-years.
It will also fund a new pilot summer immersion program, Mellon Humanities Summer Scholars Initiative at Xavier, which will provide potential community college transfer students an opportunity to “test drive” the university prior to matriculating.
During the six-week residential bridge program, which will specifically target potential transfers in the humanities, participants will benefit from experiential classroom learning, an introduction to research, mentoring by college faculty, counseling, and career development.
Upon successful completion of the program, the students are guaranteed conditional admission to Xavier after completing their two-year degree requirements.
“We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for supporting Xavier’s continuing efforts to make certain that its institutional infrastructure, culture, and policies are optimized to meet the needs of the community college transfer population,” says Dr. Anne McCall, XU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We are also pleased that they are funding our new summer immersion program, which is designed to develop a deepened and informed appreciation for the humanities as a field of study among community college students.”
“The success enjoyed by Xavier students is well-documented, and looking forward we hope to extend that same opportunity for academic and career success to even more of our partner community college system students,” she says.
The importance of the community college pipeline
Two- and four-year university leaders are searching for ways to strengthen relationships and make the transfer process easier, building a strong foundation for a community college student pipeline.
While 81 percent of entering community college students indicate they want to earn a bachelor’s degree, only about 33 percent of community college students actually transfer to a four-year institution within six years, according to the Community College Research Center. Strengthening relationships between two-year and four-year institutions can help increase that rate.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC) and Gaston College in North Carolina are building on a partnership with UNC Charlotte to help students smoothly transfer and earn biomedical degrees. With funding support from the National Institutes of Health, the collaborative Bridges to Baccalaureate Program will focus on exposing students to targeted resources and real-world research experiences.
“This experience will not only help students support themselves financially, but it will also give them a unique relationship with faculty in a lab setting. Students will quickly learn if a biomedical career is for them,” says Carol Scherczinger, dean of arts and sciences at RCCC.
The program will work with a total of 45 students who will earn their associate degrees at Gaston College or RCCC before transferring to UNC Charlotte to complete their bachelor’s of science degrees in the biomedical sciences. Recruitment of students will include a focus on increasing the numbers of students from underrepresented groups in STEM.