Kentucky strives to achieve its educational attainment goal of having 60% of its population gain a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030 through transfer success. For every 500 students in Kentucky who enrol in a transfer pathway, about 120 students successfully transfer within three years, while 63 can get a bachelor’s degree within four years of transferring from a community college. Transferring can benefit students who want to save more money as the cost of college can be significantly reduced when students get an associate degree at a community college and then transfer to a university for a bachelor’s degree
Furthermore, transferring allows students to complete a bachelor’s degree after obtaining their associate degree, which can help them get higher incomes than those who don’t transfer. However, very few transfer-aspiring students can successfully get a bachelor’s degree, with many changing their majors, completing a short-term credential, dropping out, or completing an associate degree without transferring. The 2 + 2 formula is a standard model that students consider, which involves two years at a community college before taking part in a 2-year bachelor’s program, but less than 10% of transfer students follow this model exactly.
It also doesn’t help that students face several obstacles when transferring, which probably contributes to declining transfer rates. Nonetheless, Kentucky provides solutions that make connecting the transfer path easier. These include having clear transfer pathways aiding transfer advising while encouraging proactive advising that provides for routine checkups helping to overcome informational barriers students might have while increasing on-time graduation rates.
It’s important to recognize that transfer success is an equity issue. White students are typically more likely to transfer than Black and Hispanic students. Students from more wealthy families are twice as likely to transfer as students from lower-income families. Thankfully, the increase in early momentum milestones is improving transfer success for all students, especially Black and Hispanic students.
By putting more attention on connecting the path from community colleges to universities, Kentucky is centring students’ needs above all else in the pursuit of scalable improvements in transfer, credit mobility, and recognition of learning across the state.