How many students can say they know exactly what it’s like to apply something they’re learning in chemistry class to treating a wounded soldier in a helicopter? Or when they engage in a small group discussion on a great book, can apply the real-world experiences and challenges they’ve faced in their own lives to enrich the discussion?
For many transfer students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these are the perspectives they bring that help enrich the entire academic experience at UNC. And one of the biggest ways the university has supported these students is through the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program or C-STEP.
The C-STEP program, started in 2006 with the help of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is designed to help more community-college students to transfer to and graduate from Carolina. Research shows that community college students can successfully transfer to some of the nation’s most selective four-year institutions — if given the right support. C-STEP partners with 10 community colleges throughout North Carolina and provides an opportunity for talented low and moderate-income high school seniors or community college students. Students are guaranteed admission to UNC if they complete the community college portion of the program successfully.
The university has taken a number of steps to making the program a success, including offering students special events, advising and transition and support services both at their home college and once they get to Carolina.
Since the program’s inception, the successful transfer program has served more than 700 students. The average C-STEP graduate GPA is 3.0 and the overall graduation rate is 79 percent (2016). After graduation, students have gone on to careers as nurses, teachers, lawyers, university administrators, and entrepreneurs.
The College Excellence Program will share lessons from the C-STEP transfer experience, as well as from other institutions that have successfully implemented transfer programs, in an upcoming report.