A New Resource to Help CUNY Students Transfer Smarter

Project Partners

June 5, 2020

Reposted from the blog of Ithaka S+R with permission.

Martin KurzweilCindy LeAlexandra W. Logue

When students transfer from one college to another they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn degrees at their new institutions. Nationally, 43 percent of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits.

The COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate this problem. Due to closed campuses, concerns about affordability and contagion within dormitories, and restrictions on travel, we should expect both more students to change colleges, and more students to choose local, affordable community colleges over bachelor’s-degree colleges, at least temporarily. For these reasons there will be even more students who will need to transfer their credits in order to obtain their desired degrees. Failing to streamline the acceptance of credit will mean that these students will waste credits when they can least afford to do so.

Since June 2019, with support from the Heckscher Foundation for Children, Ithaka S+R has partnered with the CUNY Graduate Center, Hostos Community College, Lehman College, the CUNY Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA), and the University of California, Berkeley to improve the articulation of transfer credit for students at CUNY. A foundational principle behind this work is that complete transparency regarding how credits transfer will help students make optimal course and college choices, and will help colleges facilitate those choices.

We are pleased to announce the public launch of one of the products of this multifaceted project: Transfer Explorer, hosted by Lehman College, offers organized, searchable, user-friendly information on how every course in the CUNY catalog transfers across any number of undergraduate institutions in CUNY. Transfer Explorer draws current data directly from CUNY’s student information system, is accessible to the public, and is completely free to use—the first time such information has been so widely available. Transfer Explorer’s features include:

  1. View Course Equivalencies: Users can see how courses from any CUNY institution will transfer to any other CUNY institution. More specifically, users can see if a course from a sending CUNY institution will be treated as equivalent to a specific course at a receiving CUNY institution, will be treated as satisfying a general education requirement, or will be treated as an elective.  Users can search, browse, and filter results using institutions, words, subjects, or catalog numbers. For example, students can look up how CUNY courses they already have taken—or courses they are considering taking—would be treated by other CUNY institutions to which they might transfer.
  2. Bookmark Equivalencies: Users can “bookmark” information they discover so that it can be easily shared with others. For example, students who are comparing their options for transfer can bookmark results for how their courses transfer to different CUNY institutions to share with their advisors or administrators at the institutions to which they might transfer, or advisors can use the tool to share options with students.
  3. CUNY Course Catalog: Transfer Explorer pulls in data from the CUNY course catalogs so that users can quickly and easily view course descriptions, credit hours, and other relevant information as they are browsing within the site.
  4. Review and Validate Equivalencies: A feature still under development but expected soon will enable CUNY faculty and administrators to log in and “suggest” course equivalencies. These suggestions will be routed through a workflow, and if a suggestion is agreed upon, the rule will be updated in CUNY’s internal system.

Transfer Explorer is a work in progress. In addition to a number of smaller enhancements, planned longer-term improvements include adding non-CUNY course equivalencies and the applicability of courses to degree program requirements. As we expand and continue to add features to the site, user feedback is essential to improving the tool. We encourage anyone with an interest in transfer to explore Transfer Explorer and provide feedback through the Transfer Explorer site or directly to us or to [email protected].

We want to be sure to recognize the outstanding contributions of Chris Buonocore and Elkin Urrea of Lehman College, and Chris Vickery of Queens College, in making Transfer Explorer a reality.

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