Project Activities

Building Relationships across Campuses and Strengthening Student Advising

September 2019 Convening

The kick-off meeting for the Independent Transfer Pathways Project took place at Salem College on September 26 and 27, 2019. There were 80 attendees representing ten public community colleges and 15 independent colleges and universities. Deans of the individual institutions selected the appropriate chief academic officers, faculty members, and advisors to represent their psychology and sociology departments.

At this initial meeting, attendees reviewed a first draft of discipline-specific articulation agreements in psychology and sociology, using a template developed during NCICU’s creation of articulation agreements in fine arts and in nursing that is designed to simplify the agreement for use by students and faculty advisors. The input received at the conference informed another draft of the agreement. The participants also had the opportunity to hear presentations on academic advising and the impact of institutional policies and practices on transfer from leaders at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and from the executive director of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

This meeting provided valuable opportunities for participants to learn about the project and how they could support their institution in implementing its goals. In addition, participants were very enthusiastic about meeting their colleagues at partner institutions. One of the major outcomes from the meeting was the list of resources from the four-year institutions that would be most helpful for advisors at community colleges to keep their students well-informed about their transfer options: information on transfer-related admissions requirements and processes, options for tuition assistance for community college transfer students, and degree requirements for the two degree pathways at each of the participating institutions. These resources are vital for students to make a better-informed decision about which four-year institution to attend and how to prepare for their time at the four-year institution.

Facilitated Working Meetings and Peer-to-Peer Program

The most successful initiatives to overcome transfer barriers usually involve the cultivation of strong partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions. Thus, a key component of the Independent Transfer Pathways Project was a peer-to-peer program to bring together faculty members in psychology and sociology and transfer administrators from the participating community colleges and independent four-year institutions. The 15 independent colleges and universities were each paired with a community college in their region, and project participants were expected to make at least one visit to their partner campus. The original plan was to conduct these visits in person, with travel support from the grant; faculty members would spend a day with their disciplinary peers, observe classes, and talk with students and faculty members, while staff members responsible for transfer would learn as much as possible about how processes for students work at the other institution.

A highlight of the meeting was the opportunity for faculty members and administrators at partner institutions to gather and collaborate with one another.
While visits started as planned in Fall 2019, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020 necessitated a major shift from in-person to online meetings. Despite this significant shift and the huge demands on faculty members and administrators at college and university campuses as institutions first pivoted to remote learning and then grappled with how to reopen safely, the project participants continued to make time to meet with one another and enrich their knowledge about their peers’ campuses, courses, and students.

In addition to these small meetings, NCICU leadership facilitated virtual meetings between multiple faculty and administrators from partnering institutions to design the articulation agreements in psychology and sociology. The goal of these meetings was not only to generate buy-in on participating campuses for the two new agreements, but also to determine the courses at the community college level that would best meet requirements for psychology and sociology majors and allow students to transfer into the four-year institutions as juniors with the appropriate background to complete their degree in the desired field within two years.

March 2022 Convening

The second plenary convening for participating campuses for the Independent Transfer Pathways Project took place at Graylyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on March 21 and 22, 2022. There were 48 attendees representing eight public community colleges and eleven independent colleges and universities. Deans of the individual institutions selected the appropriate chief academic officers, faculty members, and advisors to represent their psychology and sociology departments.

At this meeting, NCICU leaders reflected on the accomplishments of the project including increased awareness across the systems about strategies to improve advising for transfer students; strengthened collegial faculty collaborations across two- and four-year institutions; development of both individual institution-level and comprehensive articulation agreements by major; and expansion of financial aid opportunities for transfer students.

The participants also had the opportunity to hear presentations on best practices in advising and creating conditions of excellence for transfer students from experts at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Once again, a highlight of the meeting was the opportunity for faculty members and administrators at partner institutions to gather and collaborate with one another.

Andrew Kock at the Gardner Institute presenting
Andrew (Drew) Koch, chief executive officer at the Gardner Institute, presents to project participants at the March 2022 Convening.
Deninne Pritchett and Juliet Laughlin in March 2022
Deninne Pritchett, faculty director of the Truist Honors Program and Juliet A. Laughlin, chair of the psychology department at Central Piedmont Community College, collaborate on enhancing and streamlining transfer during the March 2022 Convening.