Rhode Island College student Momodou Jallow, who is aiming for a degree in accounting, said the transfer minor policy may help him achieve his dream of owning a business one day.
Every year thousands of community college students across the nation are disappointed as they transfer to four-year institutions and find that much of their coursework only counts as elective credit.
A first-in-the-nation policy at Rhode Island College aims to turn that problem into an opportunity for its 3,179 currently enrolled transfer students. The policy recognizes an average of 18-22 elective credits earned by transfer students at prior institutions to be recognized on their official Rhode Island College transcripts in career fields for which the college does not offer a program or articulated credit.
Elective credits earned by transfer students count toward the 120 credits they need to graduate at Rhode Island College but do not currently count towards a more concrete or “stackable” credentials, like a minor.
According to Inside Higher Education (May 2016 edition), stackable credentials allow learners to “increase their currency in our knowledge economy, creating more direct pathways to better jobs and higher wages.” At least 31.5 percent of the more than 5,445,600 enrolled in two-year institutions nationwide in 2018 transferred to four-year institutions within six years of initial enrollment at a community college, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
Jaiden Hernandez, a sociology major at Rhode Island College, said she's happy the transfer minor allows her to use non-transferable credits she worked hard to obtain as a community college student.
“By creating this first-of-its-kind policy at Rhode Island College, we have found a way to recognize the specialized knowledge and skills of community college students,” said Rhode Island College Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Holly Shadoian.
The college is focusing first on its two largest feeders schools in implementing the transfer minor: Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and Bristol Community College (BCC). With CCRI, transfer minors have been established in the following fields: Financial Advisory Services, Cyber Security, Emergency Management/ Homeland Security, Fire Science, Law Enforcement, Occupational Therapy, Paralegal Studies and Web Technologies. With BCC, the eligible transfer minor fields are Criminal Justice, Deaf Studies, Fire Science, Occupational Therapy and Paralegal Studies.
An inaugural group of 18 students have been notified of their eligibility to receive the transfer minor. Moving forward, college administration will be evaluating individual transcripts for possible recognition of transfer minor candidates.
Transfer student Jaiden Hernandez, a sociology student who is receiving a transfer minor in paralegal studies, said, “I think this policy is a great way to use the non-transferable credits I worked hard to attain. I believe having a transfer minor will also help me stand out with future employers.”
Momodou Jallow, an accounting major who is obtaining his transfer minor in financial advisory services, echoed those sentiments.
“Having the transfer minor on my transcript will help me secure opportunities such as internships, and other academic benefits,” Jallow said. “My goal is to work for myself. A transfer minor can enhance my marketability since it will show the diversification of my skills. It shows that I know other aspects of finance than just accounting.”
“Community college students are working hard for every credit they can earn and that hard work should not be devalued in the process of transferring to a four-year institution,” said Rhode Island College Vice President for Student Success Jason Meriwether.
Thousands of students stand to benefit from this innovative solution to a very common problem, said Rhode Island President Frank D. Sánchez.
“The new transfer minor opens another avenue to success for students who have demonstrated hard work and determination in their community college studies, and reinforces Rhode Island College’s status as a first-choice institution for students throughout the Northeast who seek the opportunity for a quality, affordable four-year degree,” Sánchez said.