Syracuse University Magazine

Community College Connections

Syracuse University now offers community college students a clear pipeline to earning a four-year degree, thanks to several new initiatives. To date, 24 community colleges nationwide have entered into "articulation agreements" that ensure course credits will transfer seamlessly toward degree completion at Syracuse. Although admission is not guaranteed, students have peace of mind knowing their courses will count should they decide to transfer to SU. "Eighteen months ago, we had articulation agreements covering six students and now we have 50," says Eileen Strempel, assistant vice president for academic advancement in enrollment management. "Our efforts are already paying off in an increased number of applications from academically qualified community college students."

Last year, a new type of agreement, called 2+2, was pioneered with nearby Onondaga Community College and Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta. With 2+2, the University offers each qualified student guaranteed admission to one of 33 degree programs and a predictive financial aid package, making Syracuse the nation's first private institution of higher education to move financial aid into the recruiting cycle. "We recognized that high-achieving, low-income community college students won't even consider applying to SU because of the perceived cost," Strempel says. "With a predictive financial aid package, students can estimate the cost of attending SU and plan accordingly."

Expanding on the 2+2 concept, SU launched Transfer Transition, a pilot program designed to reach out to a greater number of community college students. With a $400,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Transfer Transition combines academic advising with guaranteed admission and a predictive financial aid package. A team of a financial aid expert and two admissions specialists will travel to institutions that have articulation agreements with SU, as well as to community colleges across New York State, to recruit and meet with students on-site to facilitate their transition to SU.

Students who demonstrate financial need will receive a pre-admission financial aid package consisting of a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans. And as soon as they arrive on campus, transfer students will be provided with advisors to help navigate SU's academic, social, and financial environment. "Solidifying and expanding the pathway from community colleges to four-year institutions is critical because increasingly students are choosing to start their college careers in the community college system to reduce cost," says Donald A. Saleh, vice president of enrollment management. "We must assure these bright students their road to a bachelor's degree is clearly marked and
easily traveled." —Christine Yackel