Why a community-college student is concerned about the U's transfer decision

In light of the post I wrote about U's decision to scale back a little on the number of transfers it's accepting, I called up Geoff Dittberner, president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, the organization that represents students at Minnesota's two-year colleges.

Like a lot of his constituents, Dittberner is a student who is considering transferring to the U when he's done with his two-year degree.

The transfer news is still pretty fresh, so Dittberner said he's not sure how many students have heard it. But he said he's sure he'll start getting comments over winter break or when students start applying to the U and hear that their chances have decreased.

Some snippets from his reaction:

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"I don’t see how this can be seen as collaboration (between the U and MnSCU). They are doing things to work together, but this certainly is a step away from that. ...

It's unfortunate that these opportunities (to transfer) are being narrowed for our students. I know the (MnSCU) chancellor has talked recently about the lack of baccalaureate degrees in the Twin Cities, so this (decision) could also pose a challenge for that. ...

This is a time when we need to produce students with degrees, and it almost seems counterproductive. ...  Students in the MnSCU stystem's two-year colleges should be able to pursue the education of their choice. There's a lot of people that use our two-year colleges as a stepping stone to the U. ...

(Although the percentage decrease is only a few percent,) what we’re talking about is a trend in how we view transfer students. The percentage might be small, but if this is something that's going to continue to decrease … that’s a problem for transfer students."

When I asked him whether the scaleback might prompt students to shoot for the U straight out of high school instead of taking the less-expensive community college route, he said:

"I think that's a legitimate concern. Students who are aware that the U of M is moving away from transfer students might not take a more affordable option to finish their transfer credits before attending the U. Students may may take on that additional debt because they want to attend the U, but might not necessarily be able to afford it."