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Seamless Transfer Pathways: Student-Centered Solutions to Improve Transfer Success

About the White Paper

In Fall 2017, the Education Design Lab (Lab), with funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), launched Seamless Transfer Pathways. This two-year design challenge, funded with four years of evaluation, seeks solutions to address the staggeringly low transfer and completion rates among community college students.

This paper provides learnings from the ongoing design challenge, sharing the pilots of each of the four teams: Miami Dade College and Florida International University; Township High School District 211, Harper College, and Northern Illinois University; Collin College and University of North Texas; and Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.

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How might community colleges and four-year universities dramatically improve transfer and graduation rates by reframing the end-to-end experience from the student’s point of view?

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.

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