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The ECMC Exploring Transfer Together Grant is Making an Impact

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Exploring Transfer (ET), a 5-week summer program hosted for over 35 years at Vassar, demonstrates the importance of efforts that target and support community college students who are considering transfer to a four-year college. Vassar’s recent grant from the ECMC Foundation is moving forward in some vital ways. Through support from the grant, the college hosted a Convening of faculty and administrators from Vassar’s eleven community college partners, which also included ET student participants and Vassar faculty. In addition, members of the project team have completed three site visits to community colleges—facilitating discussions amongst groups of students, faculty and administrators. President Bradley and Dean Wendy Maragh Taylor were interviewed in an Inside Higher Ed article that created quite a buzz, which led to other colleges reaching out to learn more about ET and how to be engaged in the grant work.

We are excited that Chris Bjork, Professor of Education on the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. Chair and Coordinator of Teacher Education, with support from Bini Tesfamariam, Director of Institutional Research, are continuing the study done last spring. In a survey in spring 2021 sent to 320 ET participants, 146 responded, and the results are encouraging. Here are some conclusions:

  • 95% of ET students said they benefited from the program, and 77% said that Exploring Transfer was critical to furthering their education.
  • 70% of ET students went on to complete a four-year degree.
  • 75% of participants indicated that ET helped them think their entry into a four-year program was possible.
  • Regarding the contributions of ET to respondents’ subsequent educational and employment experiences, generally, respondents reported that ET had been instrumental to their trajectories. 95% agreed or strongly agreed they benefited from ET; 76% agreed or strongly agreed ET was critical to their further education.

Some highlighted ET student comments from the study include:

“I really discovered that I was capable of much more intellectually, which I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been put through the academic program that ET provided.”

“It just made me think more highly of myself, it made me think about myself as a scholar, right? I had never thought of myself in that way. I decided to double major in something that was really related to social justice. And now I have my own career that I have that I’ve created for myself, which involves a lot of that work.”

While the Exploring Transfer program is currently unique to Vassar, [our] hope is that this study, along with other efforts supported by the ECMC Exploring Transfer Together grant, will encourage other liberal arts colleges to recognize the importance of these kinds of programs and commit to making similar efforts with community college students in their respective areas. Stay tuned for more Exploring Transfer Together news in the coming year!

March 9, 2023