Initial Publication Date: September 24, 2020

Build Student-Centered Support Structures

Two-year college faculty can create structures that intentionally support students preparing to transfer into a 4YCU geoscience program. Helping students develop a toolkit based around skills and expectations is essential for success in the transfer process. It is important to build sustainable program models at the 2YC, which may be extracurricular.SAGE Musings: Strategies for
Supporting 2YC-4YCU Transfer »

Identify and Support 2YC Geoscience Majors

Identification of geoscience majors early in their academic path is important to keep them on track. Identification of majors typically begins with advisors or within introductory geoscience courses. For example, questions on surveys given to incoming students can help to identify those who are or might be interested in majoring in the geosciences. Providing students with early advising and support can help broaden participation in the geosciences and support underrepresented students in the geosciences.

David Voorhees, of Waubonsee Community College, describes the "getting-to-know-you" surveys he conducts at the beginning of the semester to determine which students would benefit from a one-on-one meeting with an instructor or academic/transfer advisor.

Develop extracurricular programs

Many students complete all the available geoscience courses available to them at their 2YC before they are ready to transfer. Engaging geoscience-interested students outside of their geoscience courses will allow you to further support them throughout their time at the 2YC. Geoscience related extracurricular programs at the 2YC campus allow students to engage with geoscience outside of the classroom as well as building a community based around a common, shared interest. Creating and sustaining extracurricular programs can be difficult, but there are existing high-impact models.These programs can also help expose students to geoscience careers.

Geopaths - Geoscience Educational Opportunities and Career Oriented Research Experiences (GEO CORE)
Sean Tvelia (Suffolk County Community College) and partners
Geopaths - Engaging Diverse Two-Year College Geoscience Students: Expanding Opportunities Through Undergraduate Research and Mentoring
Adrianne Leinbach and Gretchen Miller (Wake Tech Community College) with colleagues at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Mitigate Transfer Shock

Minimize Transfer Shock »Transfer shock is defined as the academic, social, and institutional disorientation a student experiences after transferring (Thurmond, K.C., 2007). Strategies to reduce transfer shock include developing activities that demystify the 4YCU and actually get students onto the 4YCU campus. These activities include collaborative research opportunities, visits to nearby 4YCU geoscience departments, 2YC/4YCU joint field trips and social mixers, and utilizing 2YC geoscience alumni as mentors and resources to current students. Having faculty go with students to the 4YCU transfer institution is valuable for student buy-in and comfort. When students engage in these activities as cohorts they develop lasting relationships that support them in the transfer process. Developing a personal relationship between 2YC and 4YCU geoscience faculty is key to creating and nuturing these activities.

Geopaths - Plugging the Leaky Geoscience Pipeline: Bridging the Transition from Community College to University in Oregon
Deron Carter (Linn-Benton Community College) and Shanaka de Silva (Oregon State University)

Develop Geoscience-Specific Skills

Students transferring into 4YCUs with training in specific geoscience-related skills are better prepared for academic success. Discipline-specific skills can increase students' self-confidence, self-efficacy, and science identity. These include such things as research skills, field skills, and quantitative skills all scaffolded to provide appropriate supports as students progress through the program. Faculty are encouraged to connect students with opportunities to gain experience in these and other areas.Engage 2YC Students in Research »


  • CUREnet is a group of faculty from across STEM that use course-based undergraduate research (CUREs) to increase the number of students who have access to authentic research experiences in their undergraduate programs.
  • The National Science Foundation maintains a searchable database of REU programs explicitly looking for 2YC students. Examples include: Central Washington University's Climate Change REU and UT El Paso's Research Opportunities for Two-Year College Students

Field Experiences

Bryn Benford and her colleagues at the University Park Campus use a custom-built rock wall on their campus to teach field geology skills indoors.
Southern California 1
Becca Walker and David Mrofka developed an NSF-funded project called ESTEM to provide students with field experience

Data and Quantitative Skills


Thurmond, K.C. (2007). Transfer Shock: Why is a Term Forty Years Old Still Relevant? Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site (April 2014)

Wolfe, B.A. (2018). Introductory geosciences at the two-year college: Factors that influence student transfer intent with geoscience degree aspirations.  Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 66, n. 1, p. 36.