JC hires specialist to aid, attract transfer studentsSpotting a trend toward more student transfers from community colleges, Jamestown College added a transfer specialist to its 145-person staff this year.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Spotting a trend toward more student transfers from community colleges, Jamestown College added a transfer specialist to its 145-person staff this year.
“What we noticed was, for various reasons, enrollment at community college has increased,” said Tena Lawrence, dean of enrollment management. “High school students are hearing about this and being urged to consider it, even if they’re not on the technical (trade) track.”
Transfer Specialist Mary Jensen’s position was approved in January at the college’s board meeting, in response to changes in higher education enrollment, Lawrence said.
Because of the poor economy, rising costs in higher education and because two-year colleges increasingly have liberal arts programs, more and more students are attending two-year schools with plans to transfer to a four-year school.
Some community colleges have even started calling their two-year associate of arts and associate of sciences degrees “transfer degrees,” Jensen said.
“We’re after the student that from day one wants to go on (to a four-year school),” Lawrence said. “Or maybe it’s day two or day three they realize they want to go on — that’s the group we’re after.”
Each year Jamestown College has about 50 to 60 transfer students, some of whom are athletes, some nursing students and some students who simply find the school to be a better fit compared to their previous institution.
Now all those students will have a single contact person, whose full-time job will be to make the transfer process as easy as possible.
Jensen graduated from T. F. Riggs High School in Pierre, S.D., in 1999, and from Jamestown College in 2004. She received a law degree from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, and practiced as an attorney for 3 1/2 years in Colorado.
“This is a student area that hasn’t been tapped by a lot of schools,” Jensen said. “It’s very forward-thinking of Jamestown College.”
Her position will include helping students directly, but part of it will also involve developing agreements with two-year schools.
Jensen expects her experience in law to help her with those agreements, which involve going through community college course catalogs to see what courses align with Jamestown College courses. When courses align closely, students will not have to take them over again after transferring. When they do not, the credits may not transfer, and students may have to take them again.
So far, Jensen is working with about six two-year schools on the course alignments, and most of them have reviewed her draft work on the agreements and sent back requests for changes. This week, she will be revising her drafts in accordance with the change requests.
The next step will be working with students, and increasing their awareness of Jamestown College’s transfer capabilities.
Most of the focus has been on schools in North Dakota and Minnesota, but Jensen also plans to work with schools in Montana and California.
“Way more students are coming out of (California’s) community colleges than they can accept into universities,” Lawrence explained.
How many classes transfer and how many general education courses students transferring to Jamestown College will have to take varies, depending on the school and programs they were in.
Generally, Lawrence said, the college tries to find a way to help them graduate in two years if they have already attended a college for two years.
So far, Jensen and the college have been selecting schools to work with based on how similar their programs are with those of Jamestown College.
“We’re looking for those schools where we can really make a connection,” Lawrence said. “We see it as a great opportunity.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at