More states should create college transition programs

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

For many high school seniors fresh off of the graduation stage, the concept of a four year university can seem daunting. You may have to move away from your family and friends, you’ll probably be enrolled in much harder courses and you’ll most likely incur a heaping pile of student debt.

These fears, along with a variety of others, are some of the reasons that some students choose to attend a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year university when they’re ready. Baylor is one of many schools in the U.S. that offers a program that assists students in easily transferring their credits; Baylor Bound. This program currently partners with 10 schools across Texas in transfer agreements, which “creates a seamless pathway that will allow students to move from an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree as efficiently as possible,” said Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College in a press release. South Texas College is one of the 10 schools with a transfer agreement with Baylor.

While the mere existence and continuing expansion of this program is incredible, this opportunity should be available to more students than those that attend one of the 10 partner schools. The schools themselves should do everything they can to ready students for their next step into the future, and other schools in the U.S. should look into adopting similar programs to give every student the chance to attend whatever school they wish to study what makes them passionate.

A program known as Star Scholarship in Chicago is very similar to Baylor Bound in that it effectively assists students in moving from receiving their associate degree to receiving their bachelor’s degree. A primary difference between the two programs, however, is that the community colleges that these students attend in Chicago are free. The only requirements for entrance to the program are a B+ grade point average throughout high school, and of course a high school diploma.

Although Baylor Bound is a creation of the university whereas Star Scholarship was formed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the overall goals of the two programs are remarkably similar. In Chicago, if you worked hard in high school, you are rewarded with free community college, and maybe more if you continue to stay on the right track. In Texas, if you attend one of the 10 schools that shares an agreement with Baylor, you could very well end up running the Baylor Line as a transfer student and graduating from a nationally ranked Christian university.

While offering thousands of students free community college may be just out of Baylor’s means, reaching out to other community colleges across the state is not. Current partnerships exist between Baylor and McLennan Community College in Waco, Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Blinn College in Brenham, Collin College in McKinney, Temple College in Temple, Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, Midland College in Odessa, San Jacinto College in Pasadena and Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. These select schools cover a wide range of North, East and Central Texas, but areas in West Texas or further north are not represented at all. If Baylor indeed seeks to partner with the state of Texas in helping its students toward success, these areas should also be represented in the program.

And again, although free community college may come from local and state governments rather than from the universities themselves, no one is stopping Baylor from sitting down with Texas legislators and figuring out a way to offer students financial aid as well along with the transfer aid when it comes to community college. Even though the university itself is a private institution, we have just as much pride to be Texans as any state school does.

Programs such as Baylor Bound and Star Scholarship are doing wonderful things for American college students in helping them make the transition from community college to a four-year university. While these are not the only programs that exist in the U.S., other colleges should follow the example of these two programs and look into ways to assist students in achieving great things, regardless of where they come from.