Articulating a Path to Success
July 17, 2013
According to U.S. Census data, 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 had earned a post-secondary degree in 2010, representing a little more than 100,000 college graduates over the previous year. Although this statistic represents an increase, it signals an improbability of reaching the Obama administration's goal of having the currently 12th ranked U.S. lead the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020. Why is such a goal so important? Without a highly skilled workforce, the United States will become increasingly less competitive in the global marketplace.
A highly skilled workforce is the key to our economic success, cultural success, and social success. Unfortunately, many are unable to achieve this level of preparation due to recent significant impediments such as steep budget cuts, rising education costs, and a transfer system that is often less than accepting.
So how do we increase access and in turn increase our country’s talent level? Through quality, affordable education made accessible through educational collaboration. It is through formulation of transfer agreements (articulation agreements) between two and four-year institutions, both public and private, that our country can develop the talent required to position our economy to once again flourish.
Articulation is the process by which one institution matches its courses to course work completed at another institution. Students benefit from knowing that the courses they completed will not have to be repeated at the institution to which they are transferring.
The formalization of the transfer of earned credit, articulation opens a pathway to education and alleviates some of the cost that is incurred when pursuing a bachelor’s degree. For instance, students can pay a lower cost for credit hours by starting at a community college compared to the often more expensive cost at a traditional four year institution. Through pathway agreements, students have the opportunity to take additional community college courses along with university courses. In addition, articulation agreements lessen the occurrence of community-college students wasting time and money duplicating efforts.
Easing the transfer between two- and four-year colleges make community colleges more attractive to middle- and upper-middle-class students—who would, in turn, bring social and political capital that benefit everyone in the two-year college sector.
There are many strategies for making transfer more common. By creating comprehensive articulation agreements that allow easier transfer of students' prior credits and learning experiences, educators take the important first step in reestablishing the mission of community colleges and universities - to provide students with the ability to achieve their educational goals.