Higher Ed Leaders at Reverse Transfer Policy Summit Share Solutions for Recognizing Students Who’ve Fallen through the Gaps
By David Pelham, Ed.D., Managing Director of Reverse Transfer and Military Initiatives at the National Student Clearinghouse.
What if we knew that tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of college students have completed the requirements for an associate’s degree but disappeared from the higher education landscape without receiving their credentials?
As the Obama Administration sets ambitious goals for increasing the percentages of Americans who hold higher education credentials, educators and scholars from approximately 20 states recently gathered to discuss one viable solution at the 2016 National Policy Summit on Reverse Transfer, co-sponsored by the National Student Clearinghouse and the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Florida.
David Pelham speaks at the 2016 National Policy Summit on Reverse Transfer. (Photo by Lalita Gaulee, Futures Assembly)
Rick Torres, CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse; Tom Ross, President Emeritus of the University of North Carolina system; and Thomas Bailey, Endowed Professor of Economics and Director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, shared encouraging research that students who receive a reverse transfer associate’s degree not only gain a foundation for greater future economic prosperity, but are also significantly more likely to pursue and attain their bachelor’s degree.
Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicate that between 2005 and 2015, approximately 2 million people completed at least two years of college enrollments, but did not complete a college credential and were no longer enrolled in a higher education institution. Representatives from postsecondary institutions in Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin spoke about their efforts to establish policies and procedures to prevent these students from leaving higher education without receiving the credentials they earned. They discussed their challenges as well as successes.
What is reverse transfer?
It is the transfer of credits from a four-year institution to any two-year institution from which a student transferred. It doesn’t matter if the student transferred to another associate degree granting or bachelor’s level institution first, attended public or private institutions, or transferred across state lines. If eligible, the student is awarded an associate degree.
- Getting student permission to share their academic records between institutions for the purpose of reverse transfer.
- The technology challenges of exchanging records on a large scale in a way that accounts for students who cross state lines or who move from public to private institutions.
- The difficulty of articulating coursework from four-year institutions back to their two-year partner institutions.
- Communicating frequently with students via admissions materials, orientations and academic advising sessions about the importance of associate’s degrees and giving permission for their records to be used for reverse transfer.
- Using the Clearinghouse’s free Reverse Transfer platform to automate the exchange of academic records between institutions nationwide.
- Establishing relationships between institutions to develop a formal articulation process for academic credits from four-year to two-year colleges.
While much work is left to be done, much good work is being done to recognize these students for the learning they have accomplished.
David Pelham is the managing director of reverse transfer and military initiatives at the National Student Clearinghouse and holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of North Florida. He has served at the president level for several institutions of higher education, including Higher Colleges of Technology, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates; Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and the College of the Siskiyous, Weed, Calif. In addition to speaking at the 2016 National Policy Summit on Reverse Transfer, he also recently presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the National Student Institute for the Study of Transfer Students.