Reverse Transfer – A Commitment to Student Success
By Erin Dominianni, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Many students begin their studies at a community college but transfer to a four-year college or university prior to completing an associate degree. Local television personality Lori Moore was one of them. A graduate of Portage Northern High School, Moore studied general education at Kalamazoo Valley Community College from 1977-1979.
She excelled in her classes and was encouraged by her counselors and instructors to apply to top universities. Eager to earn her bachelor’s degree, she transferred to Hope College where she earned a degree in Mass Communications and Media Studies. She went on to graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame and is currently the host of “The Lori Moore Show” on the CW7.
Despite her good grades and hard work, she didn’t, however, earn her associate degree from Kalamazoo Valley, something she always regretted. She transferred one credit shy of earning her degree. All of that changed recently thanks to Michigan’s Reverse Transfer Agreement. Reverse Transfer is a partnership between Kalamazoo Valley Community College and other four-year colleges and universities that allows students to receive an associate degree by combining credits completed at Kalamazoo Valley with credits earned at a four-year university. Reverse transfer can be thought of as attaining a “retroactive” associate degree.
“Students who receive their associate degree are more likely to finish their bachelor’s degree, increase their earning power, and improve their employment probabilities by showing competency and a dedication to finishing an educational milestone.”
Director of Admissions, Records and Registration at Kalamazoo Valley
Moore was able to combine credits she earned at Kalamazoo Valley with a credit from Hope College to receive her associate degree from Kalamazoo Valley in General Studies. “I’m so pleased and proud to be able to put Kalamazoo Valley Community College on my resume, although I hope not to be using my resume anytime soon,” Moore said with a laugh. “I have my degree from Valley hanging on the wall of my office. I was thrilled when they presented it to me.” The Reverse Transfer Agreement supports the college’s commitment to student success and allows students to receive full credit for their academic achievement, says Sarah Hubbell, director of admissions, records and registration at Kalamazoo Valley.
“Graduates demonstrate their ability to earn both an associate and a bachelor’s degree, exhibiting a more expansive view of their skills, abilities, and capacity to complete important goals and objectives,” Hubbell said. “It provides students with an opportunity to add a marketable credential to their resume that will help give them an edge in the workforce.”
According to recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse, community college students who transfer without having first completed an associate degree are less likely to get a bachelor’s degree than students who graduate from the community college first—56 percent versus 72 percent degree completion, respectively.
The Reverse Transfer Agreement, Hubbell said, can change that and help eliminate some of the risk for students in the process. “Students who receive their associate degree are more likely to finish their bachelor’s degree, increase their earning power, and improve their employment probabilities by showing competency and a dedication to finishing an educational milestone,” Hubbell said.
Reverse Transfer, she added, is especially important for students who may work at the same time they are attending school, who are struggling financially, who may require an extended period of time to complete a four-year degree, or who ultimately don’t complete a bachelor’s degree.
“It can be a valuable safety net for students,” Hubbell said. Kalamazoo Valley’s Reverse Transfer initiative started in 2012. To date, 122 students have taken advantage of the Reverse Transfer and earned their associate degree from Kalamazoo Valley. The majority of those students attended Western Michigan University.
Students eligible for Reverse Transfer are notified by the registrar’s office of the four-year institution they attend.