We began with the data. Having the Education Design Lab convene us with our data played an important role in getting us to share our data honestly and openly. Their independence and neutrality created a space for us to be transparent and explore the problem together. Seeing the raw data was uncomfortable at times, but sometimes it’s the hard truths that lead you to the best solutions.
Beginning in Fall 2017, the Lab, with funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, led an intensive design challenge to re-design the student transfer experience. Research shows that 80% of students who enroll in one of our nation’s community colleges every year express an intent to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. Yet, in the end, only 25% make the leap to a four-year school within five years, and only 17% complete a four-year degree within six years of transferring. Over two years, the Lab engaged a cohort of four transfer partnerships in a structured human-centered design process, providing access to subject matter experts, coaches and design specialists to help the teams develop transformative solutions. The Seamless Transfer Pathways pilots launched in fall 2019 and results will be tracked through 2025.