College expertise helps improve outcomes for transfer students

Photo of Sagara and Hildenbrand standing togther outside

Sagara and Hildenbrand

The state of Michigan has some catching up to do in terms of its persistence to graduation among transfer students. Michigan is approximately 10 percentage points behind other states in persistence to graduation among transfer students. The good news is that the issue is being addressed statewide in a variety of ways. Recently, Barb Sagara, master faculty specialist in business communication, and Paul Hildenbrand, manager of community college recruitment and outreach, were asked to participate in the MiTRANSFER Initiative task force, which seeks to address the roadblocks that Michigan’s transfer students may encounter as they pursue their education.

“Most of our students are transferring from a multitude of situations,” says Sagara. “Yet most Michigan schools have had a one-size-fits-all mentality in the past that allowed little flexibility and often caused students to waste time and money on courses that would not transfer to other institutions, even when remaining in a specific major.”

Now, conversation and greater collaboration is helping to streamline the transfer process among all state institutions, whether public or private, through sharing of information and an eventual statewide transfer agreement that all college and university presidents will be asked to sign. “The hope is that no matter where a student begins or ends up, if they know approximately which major they hope to pursue, they will be able to graduate in four years with little wasted money or effort,” says Sagara. “This should help raise Michigan’s college graduate population and enhance our competitiveness in employment, especially in dynamic, emerging industries.”

Hildenbrand adds that Haworth College of Business transfer agreements are clearly articulated, but that this is not the case with every major at every university and closing those gaps is vitally important. “We took a close look at how and why WMU allows transfer students to enter and succeed,” says Hildenbrand. “We also were able to determine a few bottlenecks in the college of business transfer process and let those departments know that discussion and action should be pursued to help our students graduate on time and on budget. I look forward to improving those areas for our own college and to seeing an overall improvement for all transfer students in the state.”