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More than 80 percent of community college students arrive at their college indicating they intend to transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree. Only 10 percent of  California Community College (CCC) students intending to transfer reach that goal within two years, and 19 percent do so within four years. Data also make clear that the barriers to transfer are far too high for many students, creating highly inequitable outcomes for students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds. 

The CCC-CSU Transfer Collaborative is committed to improving these outcomes. In partnership with K-12, the collaborative aims to make transfer to a California State University an attainable option for all California students. The vision builds upon intersegmental connections with a constant focus on enhancing student transfer success. Central to this vision is the unwavering commitment to prioritizing students’ needs and aspirations.

Transfer student success is a critical equity imperative, and there are many initiatives across the state and nation focused on improving transfer and learning mobility. This collaborative is different because it started as a groundswell from seven CSU campuses and 10 CCCs. With gratitude for support from the CSU Chancellor’s Office and the College Futures Foundation, knowledgeable and experienced practitioners are coming together to identify barriers and generate solutions to transfer success for California transfer students.

After its first year of hard work together, the collaborative is excited to offer the Transfer Collaborative Framework, which outlines exciting ways forward for the state of California and its students, all grounded in the expertise of practitioners who live and breathe transfer every day.

The major recommendations, shared in June 2024 at the Transfer Collaborative Call to Action with 121 stakeholders present, focus on four clear needs: improved communication, data sharing, degree completion support and statewide collaboration. While the leaders of this effort are excited about all the work ahead, we elevate here a handful that we want to be sure to put on the radar of key statewide leadership at the CCC, CSU, philanthropy, advocacy and lawmaker levels across California.

  • Systemic Transfer Hub: The highest-ranked solution during the Call to Action was the creation of a Systemic Transfer Hub, a one-stop shop for students and advisers designed to ensure all are speaking with one voice and delivering correct, timely, and needed information. This effort aligns with the AB928 Associate Degree for Transfer Intersegmental Implementation Committee’s charge to develop a student-facing communications plan in 2024.
  • Single associate degree for transfer (A.D.T.): Faculty in three disciplines collaborated to discuss whether it’s beneficial and feasible to streamline courses within the associate degree for transfer (A.D.T.) across the cohort.
  • Electronic transcripts: Institutions are eager to implement electronic transcripts and make sure institutions can pull data out of those transcripts in ways that allow for sophisticated use. We are eagerly watching the progress of the Master Plan for Career Education and its work around eTranscript California.
  • Transfer landscape inventory: Recognizing that there is so much happening statewide, the collaborative has launched a statewide transfer landscape inventory of transfer tools and initiatives. This should help us to minimize overlap, identify gaps and prioritize what’s next for the state.

The collaborative’s commitment to California’s transfer students deserves the attention and respect of all who can impact the future of these recommendations. When transfer excels, California higher education and the state of California excel. Even more, individual students and their families benefit in perpetuity.

The collaborative believes that cross-segmental collaboration of invested transfer practitioners brings new opportunities in how work is funded, solutions are developed and students are supported. If you are a stakeholder in transfer success work in California or across the country, the collaborative encourages you to seize this opportunity to elevate solutions truly aimed at improving students’ transfer journey.

May this report support you in doing that work.

Dawn M. Formo is dean of undergraduate studies at CSU San Marcos and PI of the CCC-CSU Transfer Collaborative. Patricia Parker is on the Sova transfer team, project director of the CCC-CSU Transfer Collaborative and former director of Transfer Virginia.

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