Kent State awarded grant to help streamline transfer process

Kent State received an $1.09 million Ascendium Education Group grant in an effort to help streamline the transfer process for transfer students. 

Dr. Tara Hudson, assistant professor of higher education administration in EHHS, said the grant will help provide a better way for students attending community colleges to transfer to a four-year university. 

“We want to streamline that process for students to start their first two years of their college education at a community college and then transfer to Kent State for the final two years to finish their bachelor’s degree,” Hudson said. 

Kent State will partner with Lorain County Community College, Eastern Gateway Community College and Columbus State Community College for this project. 

In order to make the process more efficient and clear, Hudson said the grant will help in creating a plan to make the transfer process easier. 

“We’re going to create clear transfer pathways,” Hudson said. “These are established sequences that when students start from their first semester at the community college, they can say, for example, I know that I ultimately want to get a Bachelor’s of Business Administration, here’s exactly what I need to take, in what sequence… I know exactly how those courses are going to transfer.”

Hudson said another goal of the grant is to make students aware of these pathways so they don’t have to take extra classes and spend more money.

“Kent State is going to be hiring academic advisors whose job it is to work specifically with students on our three partnering campuses,” Hudson said. “So that students are aware that these pathways exist, and what they need to do to complete them.”

Hudson said Kent State will then identify the support students really need to ensure students can obtain success, as well as understand challenges students are facing in college and barriers they’re encountering. Hudson said she hopes the grant will provide a blueprint for how Ohio institutions can better promote success for transfer students. 

“So a really intentional effort to identify where students need support, and then provide those supports,” Hudson said. “Recognizing that it’s more than just about those academic logistics, but also support for the students themselves.”

Christina Wanat, vice president of Online and Student Services at Eastern Gateway Community College, said the grant will identify and establish articulation agreements to make transferring from a two-year institution to a four-year institution easier.

“It makes it easier for (students) to transfer from one institution to another,” Wanat said. “You identify courses between institutions that a student would take at a two year college that would apply towards the degree that they’d be earning at the four-year.”

Wanat said the purpose of the grant is to identify programs where there is no articulation agreement in place for certain programs and establish an agreement so courses are transferable.  

Hudson said because of the increase in demand of jobs that require bachelor’s degrees, this grant is crucial in acknowledging this need.

“We really recognize that there are students who want bachelor’s degrees and start out at community colleges for a variety of reasons,” Hudson said. “They run into challenges in that process because the systems right now institutionally are not set up to enable students to smoothly go from starting their first two years at community college and then finishing with their final two years at a bachelor’s degree granting institution.” 

Sue Cui, senior program officer for Ascendium, said Kent State’s goal of streamlining the transfer process for students aligns with the organization’s values and goals for academic success for students.

“We care a lot about helping colleges build their capacity to better serve their students,” Cui said. “This project is very much aligned with that mentality that we care about redesigning our college so that it serves our students well… So that spirit of collaboration is really strong with this project.”

Kent State received this grant after over a year of collaboratively working on designing a project to make the transfer process easier for students. Cui emphasized how seamless transfer is a very challenging issue due to the complexity and demand of changes needed to be made.

“There’s a lot of institutional level changes that need to be made, as well as things that go on inside the classroom that will make it more likely that students are successful when they transfer,” Cui said. “So the fact that this group of colleges, led by Kent State, is willing to tackle this is really admirable.”