March 7, 2023
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students will soon have even more opportunities to Start Here and Go Anywhere. The College has officially joined the Transfer Scholars Network (TSN), an initiative dedicated to expanding community college transfer to some the nation’s most highly selective colleges and universities.
Led by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (Aspen), with support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (Cooke Foundation), TSN aims to expand the national transfer pipeline to high-graduation-rate four-year institutions. To achieve that goal, they facilitate direct connections between high-achieving community college students and senior admissions representatives at 14 highly selective colleges and universities in the American Talent Initiative.
BMCC students nominated to join TSN will receive support in navigating the financial aid, credit transfer and application process to some of the most selective four-year institutions in the country. TSN four-year partners—including Ivy League, small liberal arts colleges, and major research universities— offer some of the most generous financial aid in the country, meeting 100 percent of students’ full demonstrated need.
“BMCC is thrilled to join the Transfer Scholars Network which will expand student opportunities to attend some of the nation’s most competitive and storied universities and colleges,” said BMCC President Anthony E. Munroe. “Far too many students who enroll in community colleges, especially those from under-served and underrepresented communities, do not transfer to four-year institutions and earn a bachelor’s degree. At BMCC, we’ve made it part of our mission to make certain our students are afforded every opportunity to take the next step on their academic journey. This new partnership will help us further see that mission through to fruition.”
BMCC is one of the largest and most diverse campuses in New York City. More than 50 percent of BMCC students are the first in their family to attend college. The College is fully committed to improving student success and increasing access to equity.
In service of that commitment, BMCC offers an array of academic support services, articulation agreements and partnerships to make the transfer process as seamless as possible and ensure students can afford the four-year institutions they attend. Among students who successfully transfer from BMCC to four-year institutions, more than 60 percent earn a bachelor’s degree within three years.
This graduation rate helps account for BMCC’s socioeconomic impact, with a 2020 Brookings Institution report ranking BMCC third among all two-year colleges nationwide in social and economic mobility.
“There is incredible talent within community colleges, including high-achieving students who should, based on their merits, have access and opportunity to take advantage of all that the leading colleges have to offer,” says Tania LaViolet, director at the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We cannot have true equity in higher education if there is not a path for students across the nation to transfer from community colleges to highly selective institutions.”
Students are nominated for TSN based on eligibility criteria including demonstrated academic achievement, financial need, holistic life and professional experiences, and transfer readiness. Once they receive personalized nomination letters, they submit a short application to the TSN portal and are quickly connected with senior admissions leaders at the four-year partners.
After two phases of the pilot, TSN engaged 372 students from eight community colleges. The overwhelming majority of TSN students have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and are from lower-income backgrounds and/or communities of color. Even in its earliest stages, the initiative shows promise in diversifying the student pipeline at our nation’s top universities. After its first full admissions cycle in Spring 2022, at least 20 percent of TSN students who applied to four-year partner colleges received offers of admission, outpacing the average admission rate of 15.6 percent at these schools.
Building on the early success of the pilot, the next phase of the Transfer Scholars Network will include increased commitments to full affordability and financial aid for students, feature more partner-led workshops, and provide additional webinars and transfer resources for both students and institutions. The initiative will also expand to new community colleges and four-year institutions across the country this cycle, forming a growing network devoted to increasing opportunity for more transfer students.
“Over the last two years, Aspen CEP’s Transfer Scholars Network has been diligently testing and scaling promising ideas from a network of innovative and mission-driven institutions,” said Giuseppe Basili, executive director of the Cooke Foundation. “We’re proud to help bring those learnings to light and amplify their impact in the years ahead.”
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and enrolls almost 20,000 degree-seeking and 11,000 continuing education students a year, awarding associate degrees in more than 50 fields. BMCC ranks #5 among community colleges nationwide in granting associate degrees to minority students, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program supports colleges and universities in their quest to achieve a higher standard of excellence, delivering credentials that unlock life-changing careers and strengthen our economy, society, and democracy. We know it takes visionary college leaders to achieve this higher standard and we make it our mission to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and research-backed tools to inspire change, shift practice, and advance the capacity of colleges to deliver excellent and equitable student outcomes. For more information, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $250 million in scholarships to nearly 3,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $125 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org
The American Talent Initiative is a Bloomberg Philanthropies-supported collaboration between the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and more than 130 top colleges and universities nationwide committed to enrolling, supporting, and graduating more than 50,000 talented students from lower-income backgrounds by 2025. To realize this milestone, ATI facilitates practice-sharing, and communications campaigns around presidential leadership, affordability, community college transfer, student success and equity in the academic experience. With this support, members can progress toward aspirational lower-income student enrollment goals and minimize equity-based graduation gaps by 2025. To learn more about ATI, visit www.americantalentinitiative.org.
Programs such as the Transfer Scholars Network support BMCC’s strategic goals including Strategic Goal #4: Improve Completion and Transfer Rates through Integrated Support Services.
- The TSN is managed by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
- TSN connects 400 high-achieving community college transfers to the nation’s top four-year institutions
- TSN four-year partners include Ivy League, small liberal arts colleges and major research universities