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Easy transfers
Dual admission program at NEC part of growing trend

08/20/15
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 
 
 A new program at Henniker’s New England College called CC2NEC will automatically admit community college students across the nation, positioning the school to aggressively target non-traditional students. Meanwhile, other state colleges are gradually easing barriers for community college students to transfer.
 
CC2NEC
New England College’s new program is unique in the state, and as far as Vice President of Enrollment Brad Poznanski knows, it might be unique in the country.
“We haven’t heard of another dual acceptance program of this type ... of this magnitude,” Poznanski said.
Schools have long set up articulation agreements with other schools, sometimes for specific programs, other times as general partnerships with the school as a whole. Usually, a receiving four-year institution will want to preserve some measure of control over what credits from other schools they accept, to make sure previous coursework matches up with their existing academic standards.
On some level, this is still the case for NEC. While it accepts up to 90 credits from a community college (as it has for about 27 years), NEC reviews each transcript and makes a call on whether each class can fill a requirement for a bachelor program or not. What’s new is the automatic admission for all community college students in the country.
“It’s a dual acceptance program so that virtually, if a student has been admitted at a community college, then they should consider themselves admitted to New England College at the same time, provided they do satisfactory work at the community college,” Poznanski said.
Poznanski said satisfactory work is usually defined by at least a 2.0 GPA, but there is no official minimum grade score.
“We’re not attaching a lot of strings,” Poznanski said.
And while it may seem like a logistical nightmare, setting up partnerships with literally every community college in the country, Poznanski said that’s not the case for NEC. Restrictions for community college transfers were already very minimal, so what this program does is make transferring a more proactive process and spread the word beyond state borders.
“It’s not a leap for us, not a difficult endeavor whatsoever,” Poznanski said. “It was really just coming up with the idea.”
He says the school is taking a very open and inclusive approach to higher education, where more traditional universities look askance at allowing a hodgepodge of past coursework to intermingle with their carefully crafted curricula.
“I think that, in the traditional sense, colleges feel that there’s only one way to deliver a certain type of degree, that there’s only one curriculum, that there’s only one pathway that a student can follow,” Poznanski said. “Some schools may look at work that students do at community colleges as being of lesser value than what’s available at a four-year institution, and we just don’t see it that way at all.”
In fact, it’s been Poznanski’s experience that community college transfer students at NEC have been some of the most self-directed, mature and hard-working people in its student body.
Poznanksi hopes the CC2NEC program will help meet the school’s enrollment goal, which is to boost campus undergraduate enrollment from 1,000 to 1,500 in the next five years and to double online enrollment from 850 to 1,700.
 
Lowering barriers
Thomas Horgan, the president of the New Hampshire College and University Council, says a school’s relative inclusiveness for transfer students has long been a dividing factor.
“Some four-year colleges would feel strongly that being on their campus for four years is a really important part of the educational experience. Other institutions have a lot of transfer students,” Horgan said.
He said as people struggle to find ways to afford increasingly expensive degrees, starting their education in a community college is becoming a more popular option.
“So we’re seeing four-year colleges, both public and private, responding to that demand,” he said. “I think there’s definitely been a loosening up of the number of credits that are accepted by the four-year institution.”
Arguably, NEC is already one of the most inclusive schools in the state, with an acceptance rate of 90 percent according to the Princeton Review. That’s higher than Southern New Hampshire University, which has an 84 percent acceptance rate. SNHU also accepts up to 90 credits from community colleges and has offered a dual acceptance program with Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College and Great Bay Community College since 2008. And last year, NHTI in Concord was added to that list. SNHU also has articulation agreements with nearly 40 community colleges around the country.
Saint Anselm College has a few more barriers. The school, which has a 76-percent acceptance rate, accepts up to 20 courses from community colleges. Assuming those are each four-credit courses, that’s an upper limit of 80 credits. And Saint Anselm requires students to take half of their major courses plus one at the Benedictine campus.
Perhaps the most restrictive school in the state is Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school. It has only a 10-percent acceptance rate and only accepts up to four credits from another four-year school. Online and community college credits are virtually worthless currency to a Dartmouth admissions officer. Policies like this are par for the course among the more prestigious institutions.
Somewhere in the middle are the public universities. They’ve largely eased transfer barriers over the past decade, but, compared to NEC or SNHU, they’re late to the game. According to the University System of New Hampshire, Granite State College began its 90-credit transfer policy this year. Plymouth State University’s 90-credit policy has been around since the 2009-2010 school year, and at Keene State College all credits from accredited universities can transfer, though, as with all schools, not all the credits may go toward one’s major.
The University of New Hampshire, the state’s flagship public university, remains a bit more restrictive. UNH accepts up to 64 credits from community colleges and up to 96 from a four-year school.
Still, much can change in the years to come with several challenges facing higher ed and with dwindling high school graduate numbers in the Granite State. Horgan says NEC’s approach is an aggressive move to adjust to the changing times.
“It’s probably a model that other institutions will look at seriously, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see others follow,” Horgan said. 
 
As seen in the August 20th 2015 issue of the Hippo. As seen in the August 20th 2015 issue of the Hippo. 





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