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Project aims to simplify transfer process

A new campus-wide initiative should attract more academically talented students from two-year schools. Faculty are helping to identify and map course equivalences from community colleges so these students know in advance how their courses will fit into their intended major at Binghamton.

Jake Kilmarx, special assistant to the provost, and Harolyn Pasquale, associate director of admissions, are leading this project. They’ve already begun work with many Harpur undergraduate directors and key advisers in other schools. They have also met with the University’s top “sending schools,” including Broome Community College, to discuss how to streamline the transfer process.

“More and more excellent students are going to community college for a variety of reasons,” Kilmarx said. “We want to make it possible for students to have access to a top school such as Binghamton.”

One result in the near future will be planning guides that map out which courses at certain community colleges are most useful for a seamless transfer to majors at Binghamton. Transfer applications have been flat for the last few years. This initiative should make it easier for students to know how credits will transfer and will encourage more of the best transfer students to apply.

“Stronger, more focused students want this information early on,” Pasquale said. She noted many transfers arrive with Advanced Placement credits, an indication that they were strong students in high school.

Officials have zeroed in on about 22 community colleges and 18 majors that attract high-quality students. The goal is to produce planning guides that will assist the course selections of community college students who hope to transfer to Binghamton in majors ranging from English to management.

“They know where they’re going, but they want to know exactly how to get there,” Kilmarx said.

Down the road, these planning guides may lead to more formal articulation agreements with two-year schools.

Why the interest in transfer students?

For starters, a third of all entering students at Binghamton are transfers. Last year 1,200 transfer students enrolled. More than half came from two-year schools; 240 had attended Broome Community College, Binghamton’s biggest sending school.

“I think it’s exciting that BU is recognizing the number of our students who really aspire to go to Binghamton University,” said Ann Marie Murray, vice president for academic affairs at BCC.

Murray has met with Kilmarx and Pasquale and looks forward to having Pasquale advise some BCC students directly in the future. Murray said students on her campus need to know that they can enter Binghamton or other four-year schools as juniors once they complete an associate’s degree.

She also likes to see BCC faculty members forging connections with faculty at other colleges and universities on research initiatives. That, she said, allows BCC students to see firsthand how academic knowledge is created.

“Many top community college students want to transfer to Binghamton but our current practices don’t make the transition simple,” Pasquale said. “Students are sometimes encouraged by their community college to apply to schools that do make it easy to understand how credits will transfer and are assured that they will graduate in a timely way.”

Providing access is a central part of Binghamton’s mission as a public institution of higher education. Many transfer students might not have been able to afford to go to a four-year college or university straight out of high school.

Transfer students arrive at Binghamton with an average GPA of 3.35 from their college-level courses. And Binghamton’s transfer retention and graduation rates are the highest in the State University of New York system.

Last year, 245 new community college transfer students qualified for Tau Sigma, the national honor society for transfer students. Binghamton did not have a chapter then, but one will be formed this spring.

Pasquale and Kilmarx will also be meeting with campus offices to discuss how to better accommodate transfers in terms of financial aid, orientation and other elements of college life.

“Our effort is not about getting more students,” Kilmarx said. “Our effort is about continuing to get great students.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08