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MSU Denver named a top university for transfers

Learn how the University is continuing to improve and expand transfer processes and services.

By Lindsey Coulter

April 10, 2019

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Transfer Honor Roll 2019 emblemFor the fourth year in a row, Metropolitan State University of Denver has been named a top school for transfer students nationally by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. The distinction is awarded to the top 25% of institutions that earned the highest Transfer Friendliness Ratings for their development of effective transfer pathways.

MSU Denver has been the leading destination for two- and four-year Colorado transfer students for over 10 years, and transfer students consistently represent more than 50% of all new students. Tiffani Baldwin, Ph.D., coordinator of Transfer Student Success, and Josh Gabrielson,associate director of Transfer Admissions, spoke to the Early Bird about why and how MSU Denver continues to be a transfer leader.

Why is being transfer-friendly important for MSU Denver?

Baldwin: Creating a transfer-friendly culture that addresses individual student needs is essential to meet President Janine Davidson’s directive to “meet students where they are.” Because of their prior college experiences, transfer students have very unique needs from those of our native student body. They are extremely diverse, tend to be adult students and are hardworking and persistent.

Gabrielson: The Colorado Department of Higher Education has a degree-attainment goal of 66% by 2025 — and has acknowledged that there is a large ethnic achievement gap in our state.

MSU Denver’s student population includes 45% students of color and 49% first-generation students. With over half of this diverse student population transferring in from another college, it is instrumental for us to address transfer students not only for the benefit of MSU Denver but for the benefit of Colorado.

How has MSU Denver improved the transfer process?

Baldwin: The Hispanic-Serving Institution Working Group on transfer and enrollment is improving processes and policies as they pertain to transfer students, and Transfer Student Success in Roadways has established itself as a one-stop shop for transfer students. We help transfer students build connections and community and create a sense of belonging. This semester, for example, we’ve integrated the Transfer Peer Mentor program — which has greatly increased student engagement.

Gabrielson: Increased collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs has really helped address transfer barriers. We’ve enhanced the number of transfer guides, articulation agreements and MOUs with partner institutions to increase the percentage of transfer credits that will apply to bachelor’s degrees, leading to higher retention and graduation rates. This summer, we’ll also be implementing a tool for prospective transfer students on the Admissions website that will explain how credits will transfer and apply to a degree, as well as what steps to take along with suggested deadlines.

Are these efforts paying off in the form of more transfer retention or new applications?

Baldwin: At this point, most of our data is preliminary. Anecdotally, however, we often hear that the support we offer is helpful and beneficial to the students.

Also, transfer-student survey data indicates that making just one connection on campus can have a significantly positive impact on a transfer student’s rating of their transfer experience.

Gabrielson: Even as many other universities increase financial and staff resources toward recruiting transfer students, MSU Denver continues to be the leading destination for students transferring from the 15 Colorado community colleges and other universities. And our transfer students continue to graduate with success, representing 67% of spring 2018 graduates. I take this award as a challenge to lead Colorado in better serving regional transfer students toward higher degree completion and increased job placement. We have the largest amount of Colorado transfer students, and it is instrumental that we continue to raise the bar.

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