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Transfer success

DATE: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A story on CNBC names Holyoke Community College one of the "Six community colleges that will fast-track you to a bachelor's degree."

A student at HCC's annual Transfer Fair holds materials from the University of Massachusetts.

The relationship between Holyoke Community College and the University of Massachusetts is highlighted in a national report as a model of a successful transfer partnership other colleges would do well to emulate.

HCC and UMass were selected as one of only six pairs of "high performing" community colleges and partner universities in "The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges" from the Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.

The report, originally released in 2016, was recently cited in a May 30, 2017, story on CNBC that names HCC one of the "Six community colleges that will fast-track you to a bachelor's degree." 

"We analyzed the practices at partnerships of community colleges and four-year institutions with high rates of transfer student success," said Davis Jenkins, senior researcher at CCRC and co-author of the report. "This report presents the evidence-based strategies that community colleges and university leaders can use to improve outcomes on their own campuses."

The free report is available online at http://as.pn/transfer1

The report praises HCC for its "culture of commitment to transfer," and "the institution's goal of improving transfer rates" and cites then HCC President Bill Messner for regularly communicating "the importance of clear transfer pathways with UMass-Amherst leaders." 

"People who are steeped in transfer — it's the norm around here," Messner says in the report.

That emphasis on transfer is continuing under the administration of new HCC President Christina Royal, who started in January.

"Making sure our students have the academic skills and tools they need to succeed after they leave HCC is critical," Royal said. "As a community college, we focus most of our attention on matters close to home, so it is deeply meaningful and satisfying to receive this kind of national recognition."

The report cites collaborative grants that align degree pathways and support student success for HCC students who transfer to UMass; HCC's learning community courses that "provide the sort of rich and rigorous learning experiences that will prepare student for four-year college coursework"; the HCC Honors program, including a new transfer pact between HCC and Commonwealth Honors College at UMass; the emphasis on dual enrollment for high school students taking college classes; and regular visits to HCC from UMass transfer representatives.

The report also notes the general expectation among faculty, staff and advisors that students at HCC will transfer after earning a certificate or degree: "Everyone asks, 'where are you going next?" an HCC student quoted in the report remarks.

Each year, UMass-Amherst accepts and enrolls more transfer students from HCC than from any other community college in Massachusetts. For the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters, a total of 203 HCC students transfered to UMass-Amherst.

PHOTO by CHRIS YURKO: A student at HCC's annual Transfer Fair holds application information for UMass-Amherst.