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Tips from the Network: Western Oregon University (WOU) celebrates National Transfer Student Week

Kristin Mauro at Western Oregon University's National Transfer Student Wekk
Kristin Mauro, director of Transfer Pathways at Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University (WOU) recently celebrated National Transfer Student Week (NTSW) to promote awareness of transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journey. Learn more about NTSW at WOU here.

NTSW is an annual event organized by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students.

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Targeting Transfer Students

A number of institutions across the country are undertaking efforts that target transfer students—recruiting them and making transfer easier:

  • See the October 14 Education Dive article on making transfers easier between two- and four-year institutions. Data show that more than 50,000 students each year who could succeed at a four-year institution do not transfer, too often because of uncertainty about the process, cost, and transfer of credits. Two institutions in Ohio—University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College—have collaborated to create an “academy” that streamlines transfer for two-year students by offering cost transparency, fee waivers, and providing academic advisers for smooth credit transfer.
  • The New York Times profiles efforts by four-year institutions—even some elite schools—to bring talent and diversity to their campuses by courting students from two-year colleges. This is a shift in thinking about community colleges and their students as well as a new strategy to increase enrollment.
  • A September article in Inside HigherEd showcased “transfer minors,” a policy that recognizes credits earned—and learning achieved—in a very innovative way. Often when associate degree students transfer, many of their credits are deemed “elective” because they don’t fit into the new school’s major programs; this learning can go unrecognized on a student’s transcript. Rhode Island College has come up with a plan that addresses this issue and also seeks to attract transfer students and increase the satisfaction level of community college transfers.
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Transfer Facts:Update to Tracking Transfer Series

See this latest update to the Tracking Transfer Report Series from the National Student Clearinghouse that focuses on the student mobility from two- to four-year institutions nationally. Student transfer outcomes for the 2012 cohort of first-time degree-seeking students are reported. The report provides five main outcomes: (1) overall two-year transfer-out rate, (2) transfer-with-award rate, (3) transfer-out bachelor's completion rate, (4) transfer-in bachelor's completion rate, and (5) community college cohort bachelor's completion rate. See table below.

Of particular relevance to Interstate Passport: “Across all categories of two-year institutions we considered, the out-of-state transfer rate ranged from 16.4 percent to 22.2 percent. The students who started at rural community colleges (22.2 percent) and colleges that service primarily SES students (19.7 percent) were more likely to transfer out of state than students who started at any other category of school. The overall out-of-state transfer rate of 18 percent is surprisingly high, especially given the rising number of local articulation agreements, state-wide transfer policies, and low in-state tuition at public four-year universities.”

The report is available from NSC at

The first report of the series, Tracking Transfer: Measures of Effectiveness in Helping Community College Students to Complete Bachelor’s Degrees (2017), is available here:

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The Role of the Passport State Facilitator

Dr. Richard Dubanoski is the Passport State Facilitator for Hawai’i, and has been since the inception of Interstate Passport. Dean Emeritus of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a former professor of psychology, he received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Dubanoski has directed Hawai’i’s participation in the project as one of the original seven states that developed the processes and guidelines—including the Passport Learning Outcomes (PLOs)—for operation of the Interstate Passport Network (Network). Dubanoski has worked with faculty and administrators at the three universities and seven community colleges that make up the University of Hawai’i System to ensure that campus learning outcomes are aligned with the PLOs, and that institutions’ Passport Blocks encompass all of the PLOs in the nine knowledge and skill areas. In addition, Dubanoski has overseen development of the data collection process for submitting Passport data to the National Student Clearinghouse, aligning this process with the data collection system utilized in the Hawaii System. Currently two Hawai’i institutions are members of the Network: Leeward Community College and University of Hawai’i West Oahu. The other eight institutions have developed their Passport Blocks are awaiting approval from the appropriate campus authority. All 10 System institutions are expected to be enrolled members of the Network by the end of the fall semester.

As the longest-serving PSF in the Network, Dubanoski is well qualified to identify the essential responsibilities and champion the critical role of the Passport State Facilitator.

The role of the PSF—one representing each participating Network state—plays a key role in the program. The PSF serves as the local champion of the Interstate Passport program, oversees all intrastate activities involving stakeholders at participating institutions and other interested institutions, and coordinates the involvement of representatives from the partner institutions in the program’s intrastate activities. As the state’s primary representative in the Interstate Passport Network, the PSF represents the perspective of constituents in planning, implementing, and evaluating the program’s interstate activities and serves as an official representative on the Passport Review Board.  

A critical responsibility of the PSF is to ensure that campuses are fully aware of what Interstate Passport is all about. It is centered on students and is faculty driven. The program does not dictate what faculty and other campus representatives are to do, but rather provides the framework for identifying institution learning outcomes, ensuring their quality, and aligning them with the PLOs. By streamlining the transfer process, the Interstate Passport program makes it easier for students to transfer to and from the institution with lower-division general education learning achieved and credited. This reduces time spent on course-by-course articulation, and frees up time for counselors and advisers to help students focus on degree programs and career paths.

It is worth noting that acceptance of the program at any institution depends on where the PSF is perceived as coming from. Whatever position the PSF may have in the state’s higher education environment, he or she should be conscious of the campus culture at all member and prospective institutions.

Passport State Facilitators make sure that the appropriate personnel and stakeholders at each institution are carrying out their responsibilities for implementation—faculty, registrars, academic advisors, and marketing and communications representatives. PSFs serve as the local expert on the program and communicate regularly and frequently about issues to resolve, deadlines, next steps, and milestones achieved. In addition, as the state representative to the Network, PSFs bring a unique perspective to Board discussions and deliberations and, as such, are integral to determining the policies and direction of the program.

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National Transfer Student Week

Interstate Passport recently celebrated National Transfer Student Week. The National Institute of the Study of Transfer Students organized its annual National Transfer Student Week October 21-25, 2019 to celebrate transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journey. Interstate Passport shared information with its Network member institutions, as well as promoted the event on its website. Interstate Passport Network member Western Oregon University participated by sharing student stories, hosting transfer student events, and educating others on the complexity of transfer. Learn more here:

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Over 12,500 students earn Passports in AY2018-19

During 2018-19, the third academic year of Interstate Passport operation, 12,786 students earned Passports from member institutions. A total of 21 colleges and universities submitted Passport Completion files to the National Student Clearinghouse. Throughout the three years of operation, 38,886 students have earned a Passport.

Institutions participating in the Interstate Passport Network award Passports to students who achieve the Passport Learning Outcomes through lower-division general education courses and learning experiences they offer. Earning a Passport signifies that a student has met the institution’s general education requirements, and it is recorded on the student’s transcript. When transfer students with Passports are admitted to other Network member institutions, their lower-division general education coursework transfers as a completed block. This simplifies the transfer process and eliminates the unnecessary repetition of learning already achieved, saving students time and money.

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Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities features Interstate Passport

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) recently featured a piece on Interstate Passport in their e-newsletter, the Beacon. The piece, written by Patricia Shea, Senior Adviser for Academic Leadership Initiatives at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, details what the Interstate Passport program is, why it's needed, and how it works.

Read the entire article here.

In early 2020, the president of the NWCCU, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, will host a webinar on Interstate Passport for NWCCU member institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and British Columbia.

Advising for Interstate Passport Success

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 at 1:00pm MT

North Idaho College (NIC) joined the Interstate Passport Network in February 2018 and in a short time has successfully implemented Interstate Passport across its campus by engaging faculty, awarding Passports, reporting data, and advising students about the benefits of earning a Passport. Learn how NIC implemented Interstate Passport and engaged advisors. DeAnn Johnson, advisor for Completion and Transferability, Advising Services, and Sherry Simkins, division chair Communication and Fine Arts, discuss how they worked with the existing campus culture to develop advising tools and highlight Interstate Passport in their catalog to make it a seamless part of the advising process.


DeAnn Johnson Headshot

DeAnn Johnson is an Academic Advisor for Completion and Transferability at North Idaho College. An active member of the North Idaho Consortium of Higher Education (NICHE represents NIC, LCSC, UI, BSU, and ISU) Johnson serves as chair of the Student Service Task Force which focuses and creates shared student resources among consortium schools. Additionally, she sits on the NICHE Recruiting Task Force, representing Higher Education opportunities for North Idaho communities. Previously Johnson worked for Lewis-Clark State College, CdA, and received her M.S. in Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership from the University of Idaho. 

Sherry Simkins Headshot

Sherry Simkins has served as Division Chair for Communication and Fine Arts at North Idaho College since 2012. As chair, she oversees programs in Communication, Journalism, Fine Arts, Music, and Theatre. She has been an instructor of Communication since 2005. She also serves as a faculty discipline representative for the Idaho Statewide General Education. Simkins received her B.S. and M.A. in Communication at Southern Utah University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Idaho State University.