By MAX BROWN
On Sept. 4, Drake University signed an articulation agreement, effective immediately, with all Iowa community colleges regarding the transfer of associate’s degrees. Any student with at least 60 semester credits, an associate’s degree from any Iowa community college and a minimum 2.0 GPA will be able to enter Drake with all of their general education requirements fulfilled. This move is a different from Drake’s previous transfer credit policy, wherein all classes were evaluated on a case to case basis.
Deputy Provost Keith Summerville pitched the idea of an articulation agreement last spring.
“In either February or March, I went and discussed with the faculty senate the opportunity we had to articulate an A.A. or A.S. degree with the general requirements,” Summerville said. “They appointed a working group of the associate Deans from all the colleges and schools.” The working ground then wrote an agreement and pitched the proposal to the faculty senate for an up/down vote in April 2018, which passed.
Summerville’s goal with the articulation agreement is to make Drake a primary destination for Iowa transfer students.
“In my mind, if you’re going to transfer and go to a private school in the state of Iowa, this should be your premier choice,” Summerville said.
He estimates that a little over 10 percent of the undergraduate class of Drake is made up of transfer students, with an entering class of about 750 students containing 107 transfers. He says that it is “desirable” to grow that number.
Transfer student Matt Vickers supports the school’s decision, saying that it will help alleviate the financial burden of many students.
“I am glad to see that they recognize that as long as the credits that people are transferring in with them are from reputable institutions that would not make a farce of the value of the AOI’s provided here at Drake,” Vickers said. “They should not be in the business of forcing students to pay exorbitant amounts of money for classes that they have already taken.”
Beginning a college career at a community college and transferring to a four-year school is a decision often made due to the cost of college. In addition to creating the articulation agreement, Summerville and others at Drake are taking other actions to establish and maintain relationships between Drake and Iowa community colleges.
“I went on the road for a while last winter and spring and met with Provosts and Deans at various Iowa community colleges,” Summerville said. “Other associate Deans have engaged DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) in particular and developed pathways.”
Pathways are recommended courses in community colleges meant to streamline the transfer process. Summerville emphasized the importance of community college pathways as a complement to the articulation agreement.
“A pathway is a recommended set of classes that a student take in the major, because a blanket articulation doesn’t do anything with regards to how you earn credits for your major,” Summerville said. “A blanket is just the general education requirements.”
Drake currently has a variety of pathways for a variety of majors at DMACC.
At this time, the agreement will be limited to schools in the state of Iowa. Summerville argues that this makes the most sense logistically, given that community college students don’t travel as far as high school students to finish their education.
“If you’re a community college student and you’re above let’s say the age of 24 or 25, it’s highly unlikely you’re gonna leave your hometown and/or your home state and go to a four-year school,” Summerville said. “The community college population is a little more place-based than the high school population.”
He said that it wouldn’t be possible to expand the articulation agreement without first determining if there is enough transfer interest in a certain area to make it worthwhile.
“I’m not sure that, let’s say, we’d come up with one for Normandale Community College, that’s in Minnesota,” Summerville said. “ I don’t know that we’d get that many students out of there, I’d have to run some numbers and look at some data to identify whether that’s valuable for us or not.”
“Drake should accommodate students coming in with out-of-state associate’s degrees just as they do for students who went to Iowa community colleges,”Vickers said.
“As long as they can verify that the quality of the classes is up to whatever standards are arbitrarily set, I think that it is only fair to allow students to receive credit for classes that they have already taken,” Vickers said.
Summerville stresses the importance of using every method possible to build and maintain relations with community colleges. He states that they are just as important as high schools for zones of recruitment.
“I think we’ve got to be very intentional about it, like we would be intentional about building relationships with high schools that are high achieving and likely to generate applicants to come to Drake,” Summerville said. “We need to treat community colleges the same way.”
Summerville already sees the agreement already increasing transfers.
“The year before we did our blanket articulation, we had 72 full time transfer students come to Drake, and this year, the number is 106,” Sumerville said.
“I think the short-term results almost speak for themselves, that this is making Drake a very attractive place.”