Demystifying Higher Education Transfer
Identifying common barriers facing transfer students in Oregon
By Ellie Austin, Amy Henson, and Craig Wiroll
Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management
University of Oregon
Requested by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, this report provides quantitative and qualitative data on the barriers affecting students in their transfer of credits from two- to four-year higher education institutions in Oregon. Through focus groups of students and administrators and online surveys, the research team identified four major barriers facing transfer students: (1) no or inadequate advising; (2) perceived lack of support services after transfer; (3) misunderstanding of financial aid; and (4) lack of coordinated, meaningful, and accurate information about transfer requirements. The report provides research findings, analysis and recommendations for improving the transfer process. A must-read for campus advisors and transfer specialists.
The Important Role of Academic Advisors and Marketing/Communications Staff
The role of academic advisors and marketing/communications staff is key to communicating information about the Passport consistently and accurately. It's critical for both groups to know how the Passport works and how it benefits students – both native students who may or may not transfer, and incoming transfer students. And it’s important that both groups communicate accurate and consistent information about the Passport to students, prospective students, incoming transfers, and in all of the campus materials and catalogs.
Campus advisors should be well versed on the Passport in order to advise students who may transfer to another Passport institution. Students who plan to transfer, and who know that the Passport Block (lower-division general education) will be accepted at transfer, may have incentive to complete the Passport Block before transfer. Particularly for two-year students, the Passport can serve as a milestone, an achievement on their path to a degree. Likewise, incoming transfer students who arrive with a Passport will benefit by having credits accepted for lower-division general education and not having to repeat courses. These students can proceed on their path toward a degree. The Passport can serve as an effective recruiting tool for four-year institutions wanting to welcome two-year transfer students as well.
Providing information about the Passport on campus. Working with marketing specialists at the institution and also with the registrar, academic advisors should be prepared to share information about the Passport with students and ensure that accurate information about how the Passport works and its benefits to students is included in the institution’s catalog. Not all students will transfer to another institution, and those who do will not necessarily transfer to another Passport institution. However, institution staff should have Passport information on hand for those students who will benefit.
Recommending changes to Passport operations. Academic advisors and marketing staff are encouraged to provide feedback to Passport staff on policies and procedures related to their role in the Passport. This includes suggestions for additional topics on the Frequently Asked Questions and recommendations for changes or additions to this Handbook. See Frequently Asked Questions at http://wiche.edu/passport/faq-home
Guidelines for Campus Advisors and Marketing/Communications Staff
The key components of the Passport that advisors and marketing representatives should know are as follows:
- The Passport is a General Education Block transfer based on learning outcomes, not specific courses and credits.
- The Passport transfers as a block; it cannot be unpacked by a receiving institution.
- Students must earn a grade of “C” or its equivalent in all Passport Block courses; a grade lower than C in a Passport Block course precludes a student from earning the Passport.
- Students may achieve the Passport in different ways at different institutions. These may include course completion, test scores, e-portfolio and/or other ways deemed appropriate by the Passport institution’s faculty.
- The number of courses and credits required to achieve the Passport will vary from one institution to another.
- The registrar’s office is responsible for awarding the Passport to students who achieve the Passport Learning Outcomes in all nine areas, and for notifying students of the award.
- The Passport addresses only lower-division general education. It does not address prerequisites for entry into certain majors. Receiving institutions may require Passport students to complete courses in addition to the Passport Block in cases where those courses are prerequisites for entry into or continuation in a particular major.