Transfer Week: Community College Spotlight

What transfer planning resources are available to your students?

Kirkwood:  Our academic advising team is knowledgeable about transfer requirements for the Regent institutions in the state of Iowa and other
4-year colleges and universities nearby. The academic advisors are happy to help students design a transfer plan to their school and major of choice. Kirkwood has helped students transfer to 4-year schools in all 50 states.

Ellsworth:  We connect our students with an advisor at their Orientation right away; that advisor walks them through not only Ellsworth, but is a resource to them as they navigate the transferring process. Planning recourses are also embedded in our freshman seminar course (The College Experience) curriculum that all students are required to take.

Iowa Central:  At Iowa Central, we have “Transfer Plans” for colleges and universities in the state of Iowa. Iowa Central is unique because we offer one-on-one academic advising and students do not have the capability to register themselves for classes. Students must meet with an academic advisor to register for classes, so the relationships students create with their advisor is a big resource for the students. Advisors meet with the students so we know their major, and where they are planning on transferring to. Advisors can then pull up the Transfer Plans and show the students which courses they need to take at Iowa Central towards their major at their next college or university. Advisors also have access to course equivalency guides to help ensure students are taking the correct courses needed. We also have Admissions Representatives that come to our campus and meet with prospective students. Community Colleges also partner with four-year institutions and offer 2+2 partnerships. This is a partnership where students complete two years at a community college and complete two years at a four-year institution. With this partnership, students will have have obtained their Associate of Arts and bachelor's degree in four years.


What are some qualities that make a potential transfer student successful in their process?

Kirkwood:  By making the most of their community college experience, by using campus resources to support their success in the classroom, spending time on campus studying and getting involved with campus activities outside of the classroom experience. Also, it is very important that each student learns to advocate for themselves and asks for help when they need it.

Ellsworth:  Keeping in good contact with their advisor - NEVER SELF-ADVISE!

Iowa Central:  A student who has knowledge of the transfer process, or has the willingness to learn how the transfer process works. Each college and university have its own admissions checklist, requirements, and processes, so a student who is willing to learn and understand each school's transfer process will help ensure a successful transfer. Communication is also a great quality to obtain. If a student is unsure of how the transfer process works or needs clarity about something, do not hesitate to communicate with your advisor or admissions department at your next school. I think adaptability is another helpful quality. Students are going to transition from high school to their community college, and then from their community college to a four-year institution. Students who are organized, prepared, and avoids procrastination are also at advantage. They seem to have a good grasp on deadline dates, are good at submitting required documents on time, and are much more confident and less stressed in the transfer process.


What piece of advice would you give to a first-year student at Kirkwood that is planning to eventually transfer to a four-year institution?

Kirkwood: Go to every class, and do all the work! The foundation and prerequisite courses are the road to your goal. Meet with your academic advisor each semester to plan your path, and register for classes as soon as they become available during priority registration week.

Ellsworth: Over communicate - to your current advisor and the college that you plan to attend. There are resources out there, educate yourself on them.

Iowa Central: I would tell students to build a good relationship with their academic advisor. The better the advisors know their students, the better they can serve and guide them through the transfer process. Advisors are there to help students take the correct courses to complete their degree and help students select which courses are going to best transfer to their four-year institution into their program of study. I would also tell students to do their research on their prospective four-year schools and go on a campus visit to your schools of interest. There are so many things to consider in choosing a college to transfer to such as location, costs, housing, career services, scholarships, job placement rates, and much more.


What are some advantages of starting out at a community college (or starting out at your institution specifically!) before transferring to a four-year.


  • Small class sizes (average 21 students)
  • Accessible faculty who learn the names of each student
  • Lower tuition costs
  • Free tutoring/math lab/writing center
    • Scholarship opportunities through the Kirkwood Community College Foundation including 300 scholarship funds totaling over $3 million each year to students.

 Ellsworth: Ellsworth (IVCCD) has the #1 transfer rate in the state (per Dept of Ed., 2019) – we are proud of that. Saving money is a big asset to starting at a community college, Having those one-on-one relationships with faculty and advisors really create an atmosphere for success. When you come to ECC, we understand that you (the student) are somebody’s somebody and we challenge ourselves to take care of you and help you through this sometimes scary, process.

 Iowa Central: Community Colleges offer several advantages. Tuitions rates at community colleges are cheaper than four-year institutions. Many students are undecided about their academic interests upon graduating from high school. A community college is a great way to kick start your education. Students can take an array of different courses to gain insights and perspectives of different academic areas. Many community colleges offer on-campus living, athletic and performing arts programs, study-abroad programs, and can still provide a four-year feel at a fraction of the cost. Community Colleges also offer a variety of Career and Technical programs that allow students to earn a degree and enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. Community colleges are also known for their small classroom sizes, flexible schedules, and easier acceptance requirements.

Craig Juilfs from Iowa Central Community College has a unique position working with a cohort of low-income, low-GPA, and first-generation students. We asked Craig to share more about his role.

"My job title at Iowa Central is “Advising and Success Coach.” I work closely with a cohort of approximately 200 students. These students must meet three criteria in order to fall into my cohort: low income, low high school GPA, and a first-generation student. My primary responsibilities are to track and monitor their academic progress and help eliminate barriers to ensure they are successful inside the class. We create academic success plans together that help me understand their academic and career goals. The academic success plans also help me understand what obstacles and barriers they face, what motivates them, and what support systems they have. It serves as a tool for the student and I to create dialog and get to know each other better as well. I also help them with time and stress management strategies, assist in registering for classes, note taking, study skills, and anything else they may need help with. I also teach a section of “The College Experience (SDV-108).” Students who fall under my cohort are the only ones allowed to enroll in my section. Teaching this course allows me to build rapport with my students, analyze their classroom etiquette, build trust, and helps me get a glimpse of the effort they are putting into their coursework."


We are so lucky within our state to have an excellent network of community colleges that provide career training, higher education, and workforce preparation to students of all ages. We always want to celebrate our community college colleagues, but especially during Transfer Week! Thank you for all that you do. Our state succeeds because of you!

Special thanks to these three individuals for their assistance with this article, and for sharing their insight and expertise with Iowa ACAC:

Nick Borders
Director of Student Services
Kirkwood Community College

Adriane Sietsema
Director of Admissions
Ellsworth Community College

Craig Juilfs
Advising and Success Coach
Iowa Central Community College

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