Partnering between 2 and 4 Year Schools
Coordination between two year and four year colleges is absolutely essential, so that students get good advice about which courses to take and programs to pursue to meet their educational and career goals, without wasting time or money. Community college is a great choice for many. For example, for those who are just testing the water to see if higher education is right for them. Those for whom a two year associate's degree allows them to pursue their chosen career. Or those who aren't academically ready for a four year college.
For service members or veterans, whose career goals require a bachelor's or graduate degree though, starting at a community college without careful planning may not be the right choice. Associate degrees do not offer as many opportunities for employment as a bachelor's degree. Educational benefits used at community college leave less available for year or graduate work. The most competitive colleges and universities do not accept many transfer students. And those who are able to successfully transfer may find that credits they have earned do not transfer to their new school, resulting in longer times to degree completion and increase debt.
How can colleges and universities help to address these challenges? Two and four year schools should consider a formal articulation agreement that spells out which two year courses will and won't transfer towards meeting four year requirements. Even where there is no articulation agreement, clear communication and mutual understanding between schools about admissions, credit transfer, and pathways to degree completion will avoid frustration, and result in better outcomes for student veterans.
In addition, four year schools might consider reserving admission spots for veterans transferring from two year schools, and should continually examine their policies regarding transfer credit, in order to provide as much flexibility as possible for those who do not enter via transfer.