Support Geoscience Transfer Students

Compiled by Karen Layou (J Sargeant Reynolds Community College) and John McDaris (Science Education Resource Center). In addition to other resources, this site draws on discussion by participants at the 2012 Preparing Students in Two-year Colleges for Geoscience Degrees and Careers Workshop.

Many students enroll at two-year colleges (2YC) as a cost-effective and flexible way to pursue higher education. Some students begin their studies with the intent of completing an associate's degree, and transferring on to a four-year college (4YC) to complete a bachelor's degree. Others may not have this path initially in mind, but discover a passion for geosciences while at their 2YC. 2YC faculty play a key role in identifying students that have an interest in geosciences, supporting programming that serves the advising needs of these students, and exposing students to professional development activities that will promote the skills and interactions necessary for success at a four-year institution.

Early Recruitment of Majors

2YC geoscience faculty are typically the first point of contact for 2YC students considering transfer to a 4YC geoscience program. Personal interactions and encouragement from faculty can be essential to giving 2YC students confidence to explore this path.

Supportive Advising for the Transfer Process

Once students have shown an interest in learning more about transfer options available to them, consistent, quality advice must be available regarding fulfillment of 2YC degree completion and 4YC transfer requirements.

Minimize Transfer Shock

Transfering to a new institution and adjusting to new expectations and ways of doing things can be stressful. But there are things that faculty can do to reduce the effects on students.

2YC-4YC Collaborations Serving Transfer Students

Working closely with colleagues at 4YC can provide students with research opportunities and a chance to begin building a network of support with both 4YC faculty and students.

NSF-funded GeoPaths Projects

See examples of projects that have a strong component supporting 2YC-4YCU transfer, funded through NSF's IUSE-GeoPaths program.

Further reading

Astin, A.W. (1993). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. The Jossey-Bass higher and adult education series. San Francisco, CA, US: Jossey-Bass. 482 pp.

Astin, A.W. (1984). Student Involvement: A Developmental Theory for Higher Education. Journal of College Student Development, v 40 n 5 p 518.

Boggs, G.R. 2010. Growing roles for science education in community colleges. Science, v. 329, p. 1151-1152.

Carini, R.M., G.D Kuh, and S.P. Klein (2001). Student Engagement and Student Learning: Testing the Linkages. Research in Higher Education, v 47, n 1, p 1-32.

Ellis, M. M. (2013). Successful community college transfer students speak out. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 37(2), 73-84.

Gonzales, L. 2013. The Community College to University Pathway: Geoscience Majors in the Texas Public University System. Geoscience Currents, n. 73, 10 June 2013.

Kuh, G.D. (2009). What student affairs professionals need to know about student engagement. Journal of College Student Development, 50(6), 683-706.

Tinto, V. (1999). Taking Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College. NACADA Journal: Fall, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 5-9.

Townsend, B. K. (2008). "Feeling like a freshman again": The transfer student transition. New Directions for Higher Education, 2008(144), 69-77.

Townsend, B. K., & Wilson, K. (2006). "A hand hold for a little bit": Factors facilitating the success of community college transfer students to a large research university. Journal of College Student Development, 47(4), 439-456.

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