Administrators say system will simplify academic exchanges

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UNLV and the College of Southern Nevada have partnered together in an effort to implement a more streamlined approach in aiding community college students who intend to transfer to the university.

The UNLV/CSN Transfer Office, formally announced during an event on Tuesday at CSN, will expand academic support services by collaborating with students preparing to makes the move from CSN to UNLV.

UNLV students also have the option of a reverse transfer, which will allow them to receive an associate’s degree from CSN through credits earned at the university.

Planning for the partnership began early last fall after a suggestion from UNLV president Neal Smatresk to permanently station UNLV advisers at CSN.

CSN president Michael Richards said he is “thrilled” about the newly formed office.

“We thought one of the things that would really help CSN students to navigate through our system and into UNLV’s system is if we did something like this,” he said.

UNLV executive vice president and provost John Valery White said the partnership is “a crucial route” for the university.

“If we’re going to improve student success, we need to start where a large bulk of our students are coming from,” he said.

UNLV is the top transfer institution for CSN students. Approximately 1,100 students transfer from the college to the university each academic year.

As part of the office’s mission, articulation agreements are currently being updated between UNLV and CSN. This will ward against students completing unnecessary classes, which results in a waste of time and money, Richards said.

“So many students get caught in taking extraneous courses that they really don’t need, [but] that they think they need,” he said.

White said the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents’ strategic plan has set forward a focus on student success in the aftermath of institutional budget cuts across the state.

“We’ve all been through tough times,” he said, “and those tough times eliminated some important people throughout our system. We’re now in the position to look back at what’s happened over these years and identify how to more efficiently promote our students’ ability to succeed.”

CSN students are not required to graduate before transferring to UNLV. But it is the goal of administrators to increase degree completion at the college, as well as at UNLV.

Retention rates are also a high priority for the university.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 11 percent of full-time, first-time students who began at CSN in 2005 graduated with associate degrees within four years, while 16 percent of students transferred to another institution before receiving their degree during the same time span.

Full-time, first-time UNLV students who began at the institution in 2005 graduated with bachelor’s degrees at a rate of 39 percent within six years. Fourteen percent of students in the same cohort obtained their degrees within four years, while eight-year graduation rates stood at 46 percent.

Second-year retention of full-time students who matriculated at UNLV in 2010 was 76 percent, though part-time students returned at a rate of 47 percent.

Richards said emphasis on students attending two-year colleges is imperative.

“[Transfer students are] far more successful,” he said. “They tend to graduate on time and they have more confidence as they go through the university system.”

In the 2010–11 academic year, 40 percent of students who graduated from UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno began their academic careers at two-year colleges, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Nationally, the rate is 45 percent. Thirty-six percent of these students graduate from four-year colleges and universities within three years.

UNLV advisors Eric Lee and Janet Hollinger are heading the start-up office as transitional advisors.

Lee will assist students on CSN’s Charleston Campus, while Hollinger will help students on the Cheyenne Campus. Both will rotate to the college’s Henderson Campus.

Services provided by the office include delivering accurate and timely curriculum and policy information. Additionally, the coordination of resources, activities and services across CSN and UNLV are expected to enhance and simplify the transfer process while empowering students to achieve their desired transfer goal and career objectives.

In meeting with advisors at both UNLV and CSN, Lee and Hollinger said they are looking to alleviate the often confusing nature of transferring to a four-year institution.

“[Advisers] hear the issues from students firsthand,” Hollinger said. “So we’re trying to [understand] those issues so we can find ways to prevent them.”

Lee said the experience working to provide seamless transfers for students has been overwhelmingly positive.

“[The students] are very excited … about coming to UNLV,” he said. “It’s good to see the enthusiasm.”

Lee and Hollinger began seeing CSN students on Jan. 7 after they were chosen during an internal open call for applications last fall.

White said the office will allow students to transfer easier by improving collaboration between UNLV and CSN.

“It’s an important step for student success in [Nevada],” he said.

The initiative is expected to expand to Nevada State College (NSC) in the future.

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