One bright spot emerging during Michigan's troubled times is increased collaboration between our community colleges and public universities. All across Michigan, the transition from community colleges to public universities is becoming easier and easier, and students couldn’t be happier.
Michigan ‘s 15 public universities have been working extensively with community colleges to create a smooth pathway for students wanting four-year degrees. Our universities recognize and accept the obligation to see that community college students who are ready to transfer gain access to four-year campus.
Community colleges offer some important advantages to students:
· They tend to be lower cost for the first two years of education.
· They may be closer to home and family.
· Some students would rather stay at home with parents to save on housing costs.
· And some students simply are not ready for the university setting. The extra two years at a community college may bridge an important gap for these students.
That’s why community colleges and universities have collaborated to make entry into four year universities easier for students who choose community colleges for their first two years of higher education. Among those programs:
Improved “articulation agreements.” That’s the academic term for “how you get from community college to university as quickly and easily as possible.” Now, due to extensive efforts by both university and community college officials, first and second year classes are increasingly aligned, easing the transfer process. Around the state, many universities are now recognizing credits that in the past might have been deemed unacceptable.
The Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO) has developed a set of computerized systems, better known as the “transfer wizard” (www.michigantransfernetwork.org) that allow students to more easily see the classes that qualify for university credit, and which do not. This helps students plot their path through two years of community college that will seamlessly fit into their four year-degree goal.
University Center concept: Many universities have developed partnerships with community colleges that put junior and senior level courses right on the community college campus. These centers take advantage of university baccalaureate programs by bringing them right to community college campuses.
As part of the University Center concept, universities put counseling facilities at the disposal of community college students, providing personal assistance to ensure students can move as seamlessly as possible from two year to four year institutions. The University Centers are also reminders to community college students that there is a path to the four-year degree on the same campus where they completed their Associate Degree course work.
Michigan’s universities and their community college partners are providing the best of both worlds to Michigan’s students. It’s another example of how higher education is collaborating to meet the needs of Michigan’s talented students.
Conway Jeffress is President of Schoolcraft College in Livonia. He's also chair of the , Michigan Community College Association Board of Directors. Thomas J. Haas is President of Grand Valley State University and chair of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.