Curricular alignment has been a central focus for improving student success in Texas. P-16 Councils and College Readiness Standards are moving forward on this initiative for secondary to post-secondary student transition. But for students who enter community colleges with the intention to eventually transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree, the academic counseling and advisement they receive at the institutions they will attend may not provide a coherent or collaborative experience designed to allow the student access to information at appropriate decision points. How can we most effectively and efficiently support the alignment of academic advising programs in colleges and universities in ways that will improve student retention across institutions; provide students with relevant information about themselves, their curricular choices, and the potential consequences of those choices throughout their undergraduate careers? What initiatives would support effective academic advising that will best help students who intend to transfer achieve their goal of graduation with a bachelor’s degree?
Recent studies indicate that the transfer of credit among public universities in Texas generally works well. But a recent study indicates that many more students are qualified to transfer from a community college to a university than are actually choosing to make that move. Just as Texas has been engaged since 2000 in a campaign to create a “college-going culture” throughout the state, colleges and universities should be working more closely together to create a “culture of transfer” that will encourage more students to complete a bachelor’s degree. Advising and counseling at colleges and universities should provide “para-academic” support to students who intend to transfer, particularly by providing consistent information about state mandates, policies, and opportunities, in addition to consultation about curriculum and degree program choices. More focused programs for the advisement of transfer students before and after the transfer transaction are needed. The development of advising and counseling resources relies on funding streams, and often this crucial function is forced to compete for funds otherwise devoted to faculty salaries or other innovative curricular initiatives.