Vassar received a two-year grant from ECMC Foundation that will fund Exploring Transfer Together: an initiative to enhance success for community college transfers to liberal arts colleges. Through this grant, we will pilot initiatives in the long-standing Exploring Transfer (ET) program and make more robust partnerships with community colleges and liberal arts institutions in order to improve access to bridge programs like ET and increase the success of transfer students. The intent of the grant is to more broadly engage with and disseminate research to liberal arts institutions and community college partners in order to increase opportunities for community college students to gain experience at liberal arts colleges, potentially increasing transfer rates and success. At the completion of the grant, many more liberal arts colleges will know the ET model and its impact, and will be actively refining extant programs or starting new programs to facilitate increased transfers from community colleges. Similarly, Vassar’s partner community colleges will have greater awareness, preparation, and approaches to channel students into ET and similar summer preparation programs at four-year institutions. This project will be overseen by Wendy Maragh Taylor, Associate Dean of the College for Student Growth & Engagement, who will work closely with Marianne Begemann, Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources, and Chris Bjork, Professor of Education on the Dexter M. Ferry Chair. They will also work with President Bradley as well as Dean of Faculty Bill Hoynes, Dean of the College Carlos Alamo, and Vassar faculty.
Vassar’s Exploring Transfer (ET) program has partnered with community colleges since 1985 to provide students with access to the academic and campus life of a residential liberal arts college. This five-week summer program fully funds a cohort of community college students each year in an “exploration” of the Vassar liberal arts experience. Participating students are enrolled in two courses—team-taught by faculty from Vassar and a community college partner—for which students receive credits upon completion that transfer back to their home institution. ET engages many participants who are first-generation students. Additionally, many students at the community colleges from which we draw are from low-income backgrounds and are students of color and thus are an important focus of ET. Throughout the immersive experience of ET, community college students are encouraged to imagine a broader range of academic opportunities than might otherwise have seemed possible.