Hey, U: What happened to cooperating with community colleges?

Missing this -- and a U education to boot?

“Our transfer students on balance do not have the same kind of positive experience here as our undergraduates. … We haven’t been quite as selective with transfers as we have been with freshmen.”

University of Minnesota Dean of Undergraduate Education Bob McMaster on why the U is cutting back a little on the number of undergraduates it’ll accept in the future.

Tim Post reported that piece yesterday, and on its face it does seem to make sense. And the new limit will affect only 300 transfers, a small percentage of the overall number. (Transfers will decrease from 35 percent to 33 percent of the student population.)

I’m withholding judgment on the move, but I must say the news seems to come at an odd time.

After all, community colleges received a huge push by the Obama administration last year, with the president calling them the “unsung heroes” of education that help cash-strapped students cut costs.

And many college finance writers and experts are increasingly encouraging bachelor’s-oriented students to ditch the prestige of enrolling at a four-year university and instead start at a two-year college to save money.

Some colleges universities back east are even recruiting more transfer students, saying they’re more mature and often do better than their four-year counterparts.

Finally, Minnesota has been awash in gushing reports that because of a new governor, new MnSCU chancellor and new University of Minnesota president, we have an opportunity for unparalleled cooperation. Both MnSCU’s Steven Rosenstone and the U’s Eric Kaler have said they’re working on ways to cooperate (or “collaborate” as the new buzzword goes).

Now this.

What’s going on?

And how will this new message affect high schoolers’ attitudes when it comes time to make the (often financial) decision of whether to shoot for the U or attend a two-year MnSCU college?

  • Stephanie Rozman

    I have been a teaching assistant for several semesters as I complete graduate work at the U. Each semester – virtually without exception – I learn that many students who have received the lowest scores on a first paper or exam (and who come in to discuss it with me, to their credit) have recently transferred from a two-year institution. In conversation, I have also learned that many are dealing with similar feedback in their other courses, as well. They are eager to learn how they can improve, but are sincerely baffled by the changes in standards for written work. 

    There are many departments and offices at the U that offer additional help with writing, or mastering course material, but taking advantage of them requires more appointments, more time outside of class that some students simply don’t have. Sometimes, students end up dropping my classes, which can’t help their progress towards a degree.I can easily believe that many transfer students “don’t have the same kind of positive experience” as other undergraduates, especially if they’re hearing – on more than one front – that their work is not at the same level as their classmates’, while their MnSCU transcripts indicate otherwise. How can administrative “collaboration” smooth over these gaps in students’ preparation? This seems, to me, to have more to do with the resources (or lack thereof) channeled into the MnSCU system.

  • Stephanie Rozman

    I have been a teaching assistant for several semesters as I complete graduate work at the U. Each semester – virtually without exception – I learn that many students who have received the lowest scores on a first paper or exam (and who come in to discuss it with me, to their credit) have recently transferred from a two-year institution. In conversation, I have also learned that many are dealing with similar feedback in their other courses, as well. They are eager to learn how they can improve, but are sincerely baffled by the changes in standards for written work. 

    There are many departments and offices at the U that offer additional help with writing, or mastering course material, but taking advantage of them requires more appointments, more time outside of class that some students simply don’t have. Sometimes, students end up dropping my classes, which can’t help their progress towards a degree.I can easily believe that many transfer students “don’t have the same kind of positive experience” as other undergraduates, especially if they’re hearing – on more than one front – that their work is not at the same level as their classmates’, while their MnSCU transcripts indicate otherwise. How can administrative “collaboration” smooth over these gaps in students’ preparation? This seems, to me, to have more to do with the resources (or lack thereof) channeled into the MnSCU system.

  • Guest

    The “opinions” shared in the linked article are those of one person, Bob McMaster.  Many of us at the University do not share his opinion and work very hard to accommodate new transfer student and help them succeed.

    The “lower” selectivity of transfer students is a direct result of fewer resources directed to recruiting new students.  In comparing visit options and scholarship opportunities for new transfer students versus new freshman students, I think you’ll see that the resources are heavily lopsided toward freshman.

  • Guest

    The “opinions” shared in the linked article are those of one person, Bob McMaster.  Many of us at the University do not share his opinion and work very hard to accommodate new transfer student and help them succeed.

    The “lower” selectivity of transfer students is a direct result of fewer resources directed to recruiting new students.  In comparing visit options and scholarship opportunities for new transfer students versus new freshman students, I think you’ll see that the resources are heavily lopsided toward freshman.