Progress on Michigan’s Student Transfer Agenda

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Progress on Michigan’s Student Transfer Agenda

In Student Success, by Will Emerson February 7, 2020

MiTransfer Pathways: Tangible Outcomes

With a strategic plan for making the student transfer experience more efficient, easy to understand, and simple to navigate, Michigan’s statewide Transfer Steering Committee established goals for replacing the Michigan Transfer Network, aligning mathematics requirements within programs of study, increasing awards of academic credit for military experience, and developing multi-institutional transfer pathways. These efforts illustrate a heightened level of coordination and partnership between Michigan’s public universities, community colleges, independent colleges and universities, and representatives from the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO).

The MiTransfer Pathways supplement, rather than supplant, existing agreements between institutions and form the basis of improved communications among institutions. This is important because despite there being more than 1,000 articulation agreements between Michigan’s colleges and universities, too many students leave college without completing a degree. As a result, streamlining the transfer process and further optimization of earned credit has been at the forefront of pathways development.

Considerable progress has been made in developing transfer pathways for 12 of the most popular majors at Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges. The Phase I pathways consist of Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, and Psychology. They constitute roughly 15% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in Michigan.

Additional outcomes of MiTransfer Pathways summits include:

  • An increased sense of community between higher education sectors. Hundreds of faculty and staff members participated in MiTransfer Pathways summits from throughout Michigan. These summits provided an opportunity for faculty members who, under normal circumstances, might not have a chance to meet and converse with peers in their disciplines working at different institutions.
  • An opportunity for innovative transfer student success strategies to be shared and discussed.
  • The alignment of mathematics requirements within programs of study. The Transfer Pathways process included determining which math courses will benefit students as they move through the various MiTransfer Pathways.
  • More than 8,000 course equivalencies were established or bolstered as a result of the Phase I MiTransfer Pathways!

A Robust New Website: MiTransfer.org

The greater functionality of new MiTransfer.org website will benefit contemporary transfer students. While the update from the old Michigan Transfer Network is complete, new features continue to be added. Among the forthcoming updates are a broadened ability to generate institutional reports and embedded videos related to various facets of MiTransfer.org. Additionally, there will be a syllabus and document repository which will contain master syllabi/curriculum documents from the participating institutions for their various pathways. These increased functions will be a resource for academic advisers around the state.

Moving Forward on Transfer Pathways

With the articulation agreement for the Phase I academic programs having been signed, work continues in finalizing the Phase II and III Transfer Pathways. The following work will continue throughout the coming year. 

Finalizing Phase I:

  • February 2020 and after:
    • Additional participating institutions can join the agreement
    • Implementation support continues

Phase II and III:

  • Friday, March 6, 2020
    • Equivalencies completed
    • Deadline for the Intent to Participate survey
  • Week of April 13, 2020
    • Final agreements will be shared
  • Friday, May 1, 2020
    • Deadline for institutional sign-on

This unprecedented and voluntary cross-sector, multi-institutional collaboration will create opportunities for students to experience greater alignment in their first and second year as they matriculate to participating transfer pathways institutions. 

It is significant to note, the key to the success of this project has been the participation of faculty and staff from state universities, community colleges, and independent colleges and universities. Their creativity, collaboration, expertise, and attention to detail have resulted in improved alignment between and among institutions, which will benefit transfer students from throughout Michigan. Special thanks are also extended to the universities’ academic affairs officers and transfer liaisons, who have individually and collectively helped guide this initiative.

Strengthened relationships and improved communications among more than 50 participating colleges and universities are also a result of this historic work. It is a demonstration that such large-scale statewide student success initiatives can be achieved within Michigan’s distinctly decentralized higher education governance framework.  

Will Emerson is Director of Student Success Initiatives at the Michigan Association of State Universities.