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Unlocking the Power of the Transfer Path in Education


In today’s world, obtaining a college degree is a necessity.  It provides opportunities for professional growth, personal enrichment, and an increase in lifetime earning potential.  However, for many students, the cost of higher education can be a significant barrier.  Fortunately, there are transfer options that can help alleviate some of the financial burdens of attending a four-year institution.


Kentucky has recognized the importance of transfer success and has set an educational attainment goal of 60% of the population earning a postsecondary credential or degree by 2030.  According to the Transfer Infographic, Kentucky’s strategy to connect transfer pathways indicates that for every five-hundred Kentucky students who enroll in a transfer pathway, 115 students will transfer within three years, and sixty-three students will complete a bachelor’s degree within four years of transferring from a community college.


Different Pathways to Success


When it comes to college education, there are various options available for students to consider.  One such option is transferring from a community college to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree.  There are several reasons why students should consider transferring.  Firstly, attending a community college for an associate degree can significantly reduce the cost of college.  For instance, in Kentucky, the net price annually is $6,000 at KCTCS, which is much lower than the $13,000 charged by public universities and $18,000 at private universities.  This cost difference can make a significant impact on a student’s finances and can help reduce the burden of student loans.  Moreover, community colleges often offer smaller class sizes, more flexible schedules, and personalized attention, which can help students to adjust better to college life.


Transfer Benefits


Another reason transferring to a university after obtaining an associate degree is beneficial is the higher income potential.  According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, students who complete a bachelor’s degree after receiving an associate degree have higher incomes than those who did not transfer.  In Kentucky, the annual earnings of associate degree graduates ten years after obtaining their degree are $37,000, while bachelor’s graduates earn $63,000 annually.  This difference in earnings translates into a lifetime earnings premium of $590,000 in Kentucky and $541,000 nationally.  


These figures demonstrate the importance of investing in a bachelor’s degree for long-term financial success.  Overall, transferring from a community college to a university can be an excellent way for students to obtain a high-quality education without breaking the bank, and it can also lead to better career prospects in the future.


Despite the benefits of transfer, too few transfer-aspiring students reach their goal of a bachelor’s degree.  In 2020-2021, nearly 30,000 students were on a transfer pathway pursuing an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree in a Kentucky Community and Technical College.  A 2018 first-time cohort analysis shows that by 2026-2027, 23,100 students will not have transferred yet (77%), and 6,900 students will transfer to a university (23%).  It is imperative to recognize the barriers that students face when transferring and to implement solutions to overcome these barriers.


The 2+2 formula is a commonly known model, but nationally only 8% of transfer students complete it in this manner.  To increase transfer success, institutions must work together to map major requirements and career pathways from the community college to every bachelor’s program.  Kentucky’s transfer website maps clear transfer pathways and is a tool for transfer advising.


Institutions must also ensure that students meet with transfer advisors to chart, continue, and complete the path to a bachelor’s degree.  Proactive advising with regular checkups can overcome strong informational barriers and increase on-time graduation rates by as much as 21%.  More than half of transfer-aspiring community college students have never used transfer advising.  Transfer students are less likely to interact with university faculty and participate in co-curricular activities like study abroad or undergraduate research.


Students play a critical role in shaping the future of our society.  As the article above suggests, education is a fundamental pillar of individual and societal development.  It provides individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce, and it also helps cultivate critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.  Furthermore, education is essential for promoting social mobility and reducing inequality.  By providing access to education, we can ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity to succeed and contribute to society.


In Conclusion


Education is vital for the growth and development of individuals and society as a whole.  It is through education that we can foster innovation, creativity, and progress.  As such, it is essential that we prioritize education and work to ensure that all individuals have access to high-quality education regardless of their socioeconomic background or geographic location.  Only then can we build a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

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