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The Perfect Fit

The Perfect Fit: Pathways for Transfer Students

Posted: 01/07/2014

By Laura Janota

As a city colleges of chicago student, Luciana Barnes knew she’d one day be moving on for her bachelor’s degree at a four-year higher education institution in the Chicagoland area. The question was, which university should she attend?

While she considered both public and private options, Roosevelt University became Luciana Barnes’ first choice after a chance encounter at Kennedy King College with Roosevelt Transfer Coordinator Jennifer Jones.

“She (Jones) told me about some great scholarship opportunities and assured me it would be a transition I could handle,” said Barnes, who met Jones at a recruitment table in a hallway outside a Kennedy King classroom in 2012. Agreeing to check out Roosevelt, Barnes brought her transcripts, which were immediately reviewed, paving the way for Barnes’ on-the-spot admission.

“I remember being amazed at how smoothly things went,” said the Bachelor of Liberal Studies student who is majoring in Media Studies. “I felt then, as I do now, that Roosevelt is the right place for me to be.”

Efficient and welcoming, academically supportive and passionate about student engagement and graduation – that is the kind of environment Roosevelt University is creating for transfer students. “At a time when cost and value of a college education are issues for increasing numbers of students and their families, we are redoubling our efforts to make it easier for transfer students to get their bachelor’s degrees,” said Doug Knerr, executive vice president and university provost.

Nearly 700 new transfers, hailing from two and four-year higher education institutions and representing about three-fifths of the University’s new undergraduate student body, choose to enroll each fall at Roosevelt for their bachelor’s degree studies. “I needed something close to home and Roosevelt had the program I wanted,” said Laura Slarkiewicz, a transfer from Elgin Community College (ECC), who enrolled this fall in the University’s Bachelor’s in Paralegal Studies program.

Erin Eberle, a Schaumburg resident and new psychology transfer from Harper College in Palatine, Ill., was looking for a school close to home and work. “When I found out how great Roosevelt’s psychology program is and that I could actually go on to do a master’s in clinical psychology and even earn a PsyD doctorate degree, I knew Roosevelt would be the right place for me,” she said.

A Commitment to Completion

""With a presence at both the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses, Roosevelt’s transfer population comes largely from two-year colleges and four-year universities in Illinois, with the largest numbers of community college students hailing from Harper, Harold Washington College in Chicago and the College of DuPage (COD).

The majority of the transfer population is female; about 44 percent of the group is white; and Latinos and African Americans each represent about one fifth of Roosevelt’s transfers. The majority takes a full-time course load. As a group, transfers enrolling at Roosevelt are likely to stay at the University until they graduate. In recent years, they also have been entering the University with grade point averages that have been on the rise.

“It’s an important population for this University and for higher education in general,” remarked Knerr, the architect of a new Roosevelt transfer strategy whose major components include innovative partnerships with community colleges and more student services for transfers. “These are students who are looking for the most affordable and accessible way to get through college and we are providing them with a pathway,” said Knerr. He expects Roosevelt’s transfer population to grow by approximately 100 full-time transfer students in the next three to five years.

The spike is anticipated in part because of newly minted dual-degree partnerships that will closely tie the University to community colleges on everything from curricula and program planning to marketing and student advising. Currently, the University has more than 90 articulation agreements with two-year schools.

“The beauty of our partnership is that we can become more than just a feeder school to Roosevelt,” said Bob Parzy, admissions outreach director at Harper. “The partnership is much more formal. It aligns us in everything from correlating curricula to ensuring credit transferability.” Signed last year and now in the early stages of development, the Roosevelt-Harper partnership paves the way for Harper students to complete two years of study there, while at the same time receiving guaranteed admission, program advising and scholarship opportunities to attend Roosevelt for their junior and senior years.

Since 2012, the University has struck similar partnerships, frequently involving specific degree programs, with Oakton Community College, ECC, COD and Waubonsee Community College.

One of the more innovative partnerships already making a difference for transfer students was developed nearly two years ago between Roosevelt’s hospitality management program and COD. Emphasizing convenience and affordability, it allows students in COD’s hospitality program to take all of their courses toward a Roosevelt bachelor’s degree at the community college.

“I love the idea of staying close to home,” said Jamie Fredericks of Carol Stream, a mother of two and a full-time worker who began with the program’s first class in the fall of 2012. Students take three years of COD courses and complete their final 36 hours of instruction with Roosevelt professors at the community college’s state-of-the-art hospitality instruction facility.

Fredericks said her COD classes gave her tools and resources, while her Roosevelt courses pushed her to a higher level of problem-solving and decisionmaking.

“There’s a buzz and excitement about this program,” she added. “Students are astonished over being able to get this kind of opportunity without having to go downtown and I think it bodes well for the future of the program.” The first class of eight will graduate in May 2014; the second class now in progress has 10 students; the third class has grown to 14 students.

Additional partnerships between Roosevelt and more Chicago-area community colleges are in the works and new transfers choosing the dual degree option are expected to begin arriving at the University as early as spring 2014.

Alice Blomquist, assistant provost for academic partnerships at Roosevelt, said the transfers will enjoy what many are calling a “seamless transition” from community college to Roosevelt.

“While still attending their community college, dual-degree partner students will have the opportunity to meet with a Roosevelt academic advisor each semester to ensure that they are taking the most appropriate classes for their major,” Blomquist said.

Roosevelt representatives frequently visit partner schools to answer questions from potential students. “This is a chance for me to go further than just introducing the University to prospective transfers,” said Elizabeth Gomez De La Casa, a 2008 Roosevelt graduate and transfer admission counselor at the Schaumburg Campus. “I am able to share first-hand experiences and familiarize them with what Roosevelt, its mission, programs and community are all about.”

Rosie Carbajal-Romo, a counselor at Waubonsee Community College and a Roosevelt alumna with a 2010 Master’s in Clinical Professional Counseling, added: “When I work with students who are interested in transferring, I tell them that Roosevelt is a good school.” And personal attention doesn’t stop there. Even after the transfer student enters and gets well inside Roosevelt’s front door, he or she will find plenty of academic support and community grounding. At Roosevelt, we are all about understanding the needs of the transfer student,” said Jones, the Chicago Campus transfer coordinator, a 2005 Roosevelt MBA graduate and former business faculty and registration aide at Chicago’s City Colleges.

Jones touts Roosevelt’s one-stop shopping experience for transfers adjusting to the University. It’s an opportunity for them to mingle and also receive academic advising, financial assistance and tips on ways to get involved in student activities. “Transfers want a place where they can get support,” she said, “but even more than that, they are looking for an open door and an understanding ear.”

Aiming to graduate in May 2014, Barnes remembers early on being a bit intimidated at Roosevelt. She was having difficulty with one of her classes; she also feared being disconnected as a commuter student. I remember telling Jennifer (Jones) about my concerns,” said Barnes. “She kept telling me ‘Buck up. You can do it. You’re going to be fine.’”

Since then, Barnes has done well in her classes and has become a senator with Roosevelt’s Student Government Association. She also has returned to Kennedy King College to share the good news about her experience.

“Some community college students aren’t sure they can make it at a four-year institution,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Step outside that box and take a chance. Know that you can do it. Know that you’ll have a support system. I am living proof that you can come to a place like Roosevelt and get it done.’”

Make the Transfer

Chicago Campus
Jennifer Jones
(312) 341-2288
jjones17@roosevelt.edu 
Schaumburg Campus
Elizabeth Gomez De laCasa
(847) 619-8847
egomezdelacasa@roosevelt.edu