News & Events / After Affirmative Action Ruling, Community Colleges Can Help Bolster Diversity Across Higher Ed

After Affirmative Action Ruling, Community Colleges Can Help Bolster Diversity Across Higher Ed

Published Aug 22, 2023

By Bennett Leckrone, BestColleges

Many community college students enroll with hopes of transferring to a four-year university, but students from historically underserved backgrounds often face barriers to doing so. While the vast majority of community college students enroll with ambitions of getting a bachelor’s degree, only about 30% end up transferring to a four-year school, the AACC reported.

Amanda Janice Roberson, senior director of strategic engagement, planning, and operations at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), told BestColleges in an interview that partnerships with “open access” institutions and community colleges can play a crucial role in ensuring diversity on university campuses.

“We see these stronger pipelines and partnerships with four-year universities as creating these really important and new avenues for diverse student bodies,” Roberson said.

BestColleges previously reported that the number of community college students who eventually transfer to some of the country’s most selective universities has been ticking up in recent years, and transfer students thrive on elite campuses with the proper support systems.

Roberson said universities need to streamline the transfer process via partnerships and recruiting from community colleges to ensure students don’t lose credits as they look to complete their education.

“Transfer is a really missed opportunity in many cases because we know that too few selective four-year institutions have transfer policies that are meeting the needs of aspiring community college transfer students, like those students of color and students from low-income backgrounds,” Roberson said.

IHEP has long studied how to make transfer accessible and equitable for students, including as part of its TransferBOOST initiative, which included partnerships in multiple states to address transfer challenges.

Roberson said one example of a successful transfer partnership that emerged during that program was between South Suburban College and Chicago State University, which created a pathway between their respective associate and bachelor’s of applied science in health information administration programs.

But getting students through the transfer process isn’t the only step colleges need to take to ensure equity on campus.

Colleges should also provide supports to transfer students, both financially and in terms of mentoring and coaching, in order to make sure they not only successfully get to campus but also earn their degree.

Read the full article at BestColleges.