Transfer students are starting to feel the love as a growing number of four-year schools try to woo them to campus, boosting enrollments and diversity in the process. More than half of all Texas college students begin their academic career at a community college like Tarrant County College, which offers high-quality programs with affordable tuition and fees. In 2015, nearly 37,000 public community and technical college students made the transition to a Texas public university in 2015, a 3.3 percent increase from the prior year.
Studies show that community college students who transfer to selective schools have equal to or higher graduation rates as those who enroll straight from high school. That’s because they are ready for academic success. Name the top universities in Texas and chances are TCC has someone currently enrolled. College and universities want students who already have demonstrated success at college.
“Students from Tarrant County College are truly hard working and dedicated to their academic success,” said Bree Rogers, admissions counselor for The University of Texas at Arlington. “I’ve been recruiting at TCC Trinity River each week for over a year and it has been a great opportunity for students to come meet with me to discuss their transfer pathways, while also working with the campus Transfer Center.”
Thanks to the more than 60 articulation agreements TCC has established over the years, students can transition smoothly from TCC to four-year institutions in Texas and several other states. Under most of the agreements, students completing 60 semester hours and maintaining a certain GPA can transfer with all general education requirements fulfilled. Not only do articulation agreements help minimize educational costs for students, they also establish a pathway to completion through efficient course alignment.
“While recent initiatives have focused on the important role community colleges play in technical workforce development, the fact is that many students entering community college aim to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said Elva LeBlanc, TCC’s executive vice chancellor and provost.
As we focus on being an institution that is student-ready, TCC will continue to identify and implement strategies that help students make informed decisions regarding transferring credits to partner institutions.
TCC Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
According to Tarrant County College’s 2019 Transfer Success Report, more than 2,700 TCC students qualified as being first-time transfer students to a Texas public four-year college or university in the fall of 2017. The top two institutions for TCC students transferring were The University of Texas at Arlington with 1,195 transfers and University of North Texas with 580 transfers. According to WGU Texas, which offers online bachelor and master degrees through competency-based programs, TCC is the top provider of transfer students each year for them as well.
Creating Articulation Agreements
So, how is an articulation agreement established? “The process begins with the executive leadership or academic department at a college or university initially contacting Tarrant County College,” said John Spencer, district registrar and director of academic support services. “After confirming the prospective partner aligns with TCC’s mission, vision and values, the two sides begin crafting details about dual admission, program specific agreements, AAS (Associate of Applied Science) to BAS (Bachelor of Applied Science) agreements, reverse transfer and each school’s joint obligations.”
Once a final version of the Memorandum of Agreement is ready for signing, the partners typically hold a signing ceremony to officially announce the partnership. In recent years, TCC has announced agreements with Baylor University, Hardin-Simmons University, Midwestern State University, Tarleton State University, Texas Christian University, Texas Southern University and WGU Texas. Many of the College’s educational partners can be found on TCC campuses recruiting students and employees looking to further their education.
Visiting the Transfer Center
As soon as students hit campus, they are encouraged to drop by one of the six transfer centers in the District to learn about transfer options. While there, they can meet with a coordinator of transfer and scholarship services to get information about four-year schools, transfer scholarships, majors and degree plans. “Working with the TCC transfer coordinator made it easy for me to transfer by making sure that the courses I took would indeed transfer so that I did not waste my time once I got to a university,” explained Rais Smith, TCC Southeast alum who is currently working on her master’s degree at Tarleton State University.
Each semester, TCC offers many opportunities for students to find the right school and major. For example, there are Transfer 101 information sessions, grad fest and transfer celebrations and transfer fairs featuring 50+ schools—all to help students make the right decision.
“This is TCC, and students are not all the same,” said Laura Escamilla, coordinator of transfer and scholarship services at TCC Trinity River. “We see students that come in and know more than we do, they’ve done their research and they’ve completed everything that they needed to do and they just want us to say, ‘Yeah, you’re good.’ And then you have the students that need a little bit of guidance. They know what they want to study and are looking at one, two or three universities. Then you have the ones that come in and they no clue. They’re looking in state, out of state and out of country.”
Terrell Shaw, coordinator of transfer and scholarship services at TCC Southeast, keeps a busy schedule each semester. When he’s not meeting with students, he may be on the phone trying to bring recruiters to his Arlington campus. “There are several deciding factors that dictate where students will transfer: money, career pathway, family or life ties, university culture and familiarity with the institution. The most impactful of those would be family or life ties. Sometimes they need to take care of an older family member or a younger brother or sister.”
Helping a student choose the right school requires a variety of skills, which often includes playing the role of mentor or counselor. “Sometimes we’re here for emotional support,” said Brittni Hollis, coordinator of transfer and scholarship services at TCC Connect. “There’s this one student who is 40 and she has 12 kids, but she carries a very high GPA. She wanted to go to medical school and was just accepted into UNT. She was trembling and didn’t think she could do it. I had to tell her she was already doing it. She just wanted someone to tell her that she could do it.”
Throughout the year, several TCC alumni come back to share stories about their accomplishments and how TCC prepared them for the next level. “Going to TCC right after high school was the best decision I could have made,” said Estefany Mendoza Salazar, a graduate of TCC Trinity River.
“Being there gave me time to think of what I wanted to major in and what university was best for me. The support and knowledge I got there allowed me to excel in my classes, which led to me landing a full ride at UT Arlington.”
Many schools offer lucrative scholarships to high-achieving transfer students, making the overall cost of attendance more desirable. Texas Wesleyan University, for example, recently revamped its transfer scholarship packages. “Amounts and opportunities for TCC students are now significantly increased. No matter their GPA, TCC students will be able to receive a scholarship from Texas Wesleyan,” said Djuana Young, associate vice president for enrollment at Texas Wesleyan University.
“We are confident our new transfer scholarship packages, which are renewable for three years, will allow us to reach more TCC students than ever before and help them realize their goal of a bachelor’s degree.”
For years, The University of Texas at Arlington has acknowledged the preparedness of TCC transfer students. “Many TCC students have received some of our top transfer scholarships, including the Terry Foundation Scholarship, the Transfer Scholarship and the Phi Theta Kappa scholarship,” Rogers explained. “While the path for transfer students can be rocky, UTA is designed as a university that understands how to support all students.”
As one of the key economic generators in the region, TCC continues to look for opportunities to establish articulation agreements with higher education institutions to create pathways for students, employees and graduates to further their education at the bachelor and graduate levels. Ensuring smoother transfer pathways represents a critical step in meeting the goals of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30TX strategic plan, which calls for 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 year olds to hold a degree or certificate by 2030.
Learn more about TCC’s transfer programs.
To obtain detailed academic and financial information about TCC’s Transfer partners, head to one of the District’s Transfer Centers.