A common question about community colleges for students and parents is, how do I transfer to a four-year college? While this might seem like a straight-forward question, there are several paths that students can take on the journey from a community college to their bachelor’s degree.
Waubonsee Community College has transfer partnership agreements with more than 25 public and private four-year colleges and universities. Each of these agreements gives students a clear academic path and confidence that the courses they take will transfer and count towards their academic goals. The pathways create efficiencies that allow people to finish college as quickly as possible and enter the jobs and careers of their choice. The results are reduced college costs and increased earning opportunities. A key part of the community college experience is the expertise of the counselors.
“Our counseling and advising staff keep the students’ best interest in mind. They stay up-to-date with the four-year colleges to help students plan the courses that are the best option to take before they transfer,” said Sarah Kocunik, Graduation and Transfer Coordinator at Waubonsee Community College.
Holly Herrera, Associate Provost for Transfer Initiatives and Academic Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago, recommends that students start at a community college.
“It’s a great way to save money and you’re not going to lose anything as far as [college] credits,” said Herrera.
As part of its Guaranteed Transfer Admission Agreement with Waubonsee, Columbia offers renewable scholarships of up to $8,000 to transfer students, based on grade point average and other requirements.
Waubonsee also has a partnership agreement with Northern Illinois University (NIU). Through the Northern Illinois University Reverse Transfer Program students who attended Waubonsee and transferred to NIU before completing all the classes necessary to graduate from Waubonsee can earn their associate degree while taking their classes at NIU.
“It’s a win, win situation,” said Jerry Montag, Director of Registration and Records at NIU. “The student wins because they may be able to use the courses they completed at NIU towards satisfying their remaining requirements for their associate’s degree while simultaneously completing the requirements for their NIU degree. Further, there are no additional costs for students who participate in this initiative. Students benefit from having additional credentials to enhance their resume or portfolio. Waubonsee benefits from the increase in completion of degrees and student success. NIU benefits from its strengthened relationship and communication with its community college partners.”
North Central College and Waubonsee have a Guaranteed Admission Agreement that allows students to plot their course from the beginning of their academic journey until completion of their bachelor’s degree.
“We have a team of five people who handle transfer admissions at North Central. They are willing and able to meet a community college student at any point to help them complete their four-year degree,” said Martin Sauer, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Athletics at North Central College.
While there is value to students who attend a community college and transfer to a four-year college, the value is not limited to the students. People in leadership at the four-year colleges see the importance at their institutions.
“We value the diversity of voices that community college students provide. The different backgrounds and experiences are important to us,” said Herrera. “Plus, transfer students graduate at a higher rate than students who started at a four-year college so we know that they have a solid educational foundation and will persist to graduation.”
With the number of options available to students when thinking about colleges, and the large amount of information available to people considering those options, talking to an academic counselor can help people determine the best individual path for them.
“Going straight to a four-year university right out of high school isn’t always the best option for some students as they adjust to the academic rigor of college,” said Kocunik.
In addition to more than 25 transfer agreements with colleges and universities, Waubonsee provides many services to students looking for information about college transfers. On October 7, Waubonsee will host College Night where representatives from more than 125 four-year colleges and universities from across Illinois and several other states will be available to answer questions. Waubonsee also offers a transfer checklist that provides helpful information. Visit www.waubonsee.edu/transfer to learn more about the transfer opportunities at Waubonsee.
* In photo, L-R: Rebecca Oliver, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Sarah Kocunik, Graduation and Transfer Coordinator at Waubonsee; Jerry Montag, Director of Registration and Records at NIU; Martin Sauer, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Athletics at North Central College; Holly Herrera, Associate Provost for Transfer Initiatives and Academic Partnerships at Columbia College; Kelli Sinclair, Dean for Student Success and Retention at Waubonsee; Dr. Christine Sobek, President of Waubonsee Community College.