Amherst College - Achievements and Promising Practices
Amherst College Evaluation Overview
Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Student Body: 1695 undergraduate and 0 graduate students
Name of Program: Amherst Community College Transfer Initiative
History of institutional work with community college transfer students:
In the early to mid-nineteen eighties, Amherst piloted a small initiative to bring non-traditional age community college students to campus. While the program was broadly successful, it became clear that Amherst did not have supports in place for non-traditional students, and it was discontinued.
Community College Partners:
Holyoke Community College
Berkshire Community College
Northern Essex Community College
Mount Wachusett Community College
Springfield Community College
Greenfield Community College
Amherst’s CCTI outreach (admissions) staff makes visits to other community colleges nationwide as well.
The CCTI at Amherst is closely aligned with the College’s broader economic diversity efforts.
The initiative benefits from strong support from the College’s Board of Trustees and from senior leadership.
The Student Life Fellow position, dedicated to promoting integration and designed to ensure student retention for community college transfer students, will be funded by institution and maintained beyond the term of the grant.
A senior administrator provides a coordinating/convening role for the various elements of the initiative, which adds a stabilizing structure to the initiative as a whole.
The College’s Career Services department is seeking outside support for the Bridge to the Future program, an element of Amherst's CCTI program designed to aid low- to moderate-income transfer students in preparing for careers or graduate study through résumé workshops, graduate school entrance exam preparation, and career exploration activities.
Transfer Open House in the fall; CCTI students enrolled in 2006-2007 are involved in the planning and implementation of events for prospective transfer students.
Community college partners participate in transfer programming.
Staff conducts information sessions at community colleges.
Staff foster relationships with faculty and advisers at community colleges who identify candidates.
CCTI outreach staff meet individually with students who have been identified by partners.
Application & Financial Aid Support:
Staff meet with students and provide help as needed
A Student Life Fellow works closely with CCTI students once they are on campus.
A transfer student group on campus has been revived and is now coordinated and staffed by the Student Life Fellow.
Bridge to the Future (which is part of career services) provides support to students in post-graduation goals, such as applying for graduate school and conducting job searches.
The Career Services department is building a resource library for CCTI students in the Writing Center.
Writing Fellows, supported in part by CCTI funds, are available to CCTI students.
CCTI students benefit from other institutional policies and practices:
Amherst has instituted a no-loan financial aid policy, so transfer students at Amherst graduate without additional educational debt.
Amherst is hiring two professional writing instructors with backgrounds in working with under-prepared students.
The College holds faculty-focused workshops on pedagogy and social issues for low-income students.
For low-income dependent and independent students in general, Amherst pays taxes on scholarship aid that is not exempt and on such things as summer earnings.
Achievements through Year 2:
In Year 1, nine community college students enrolled at Amherst. In Year 2, admission staff made 24 visits to 19 community colleges, including five partner institutions, and received a total of 162 transfer applications from current community college students. Twenty students enrolled in 2007-2008; 18 with high financial need.
Amherst has established a strong partnership with Holyoke Community College through a faculty contact and a relationship with a CCTI partner at Mount Holyoke College.
Because the CCTI at Amherst is aligned with an institutional effort to enroll more low-income students (currently 20% of students are Pell eligible), campus support of the program reflects support for the direction that Amherst is taking with regard to becoming “much more representative of the broader spectrum of the population.” It is not clear that many faculty are aware that CCTI students—specifically—are in their classes, but general faculty support for CCTI is evidenced by the approval of the directions set out by the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP) to support low-income students in various ways.
A panel of Year I community college transfer students raised issues about student life—mainly housing issues. Amherst is taking into consideration the feedback of CCTI students in terms of housing options.
Amherst’s Bridge to the Future fund provides career development services to community college students, helping them take advantage of social networking and professional development opportunities that are lacking for many low-income students.
Amherst’s Associate Dean of Faculty is developing plans to bring community college faculty and Amherst faculty together to collaborate on innovative pedagogies and ways to make teaching more effective for a diverse student body.
Center for Youth and Communities
Heller School for Social Policy and Management Cathy Burack, EdD, Principal Investigator Susan Lanspery, PhD