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Community college students try out CollegeFish.org, an online college completion and transfer tool.
Photo: Phi Theta Kappa
Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of the community college, is upgrading and expanding its popular online college completion and transfer tool to help students attain a postsecondary credential. It’s also enhancing CollegeFish.org's role as a potential recruiting tool for four-year institutions.
With the help of a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa will introduce services offered through CollegeFish.org to help students at community colleges in five states—Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington.
Currently, only students who are Phi Theta Kappa members or attend a partner community college in the state of Mississippi can use the online tool at no cost to them. Under the new initiative, all students at any of the 125 community colleges in the participating states may use it, according to Jennifer Blalock, coordinator of the program.
CollegeFish.org will include expanded services to help students earn a credential and seamlessly transfer to a four-year institution. For instance, the program will more closely monitor students’ progress and notify student services personnel if a student is having academic problems. It will also add social networking that will include peering advising as well as opportunities to connect with their college’s alumni, who can offer support, advice and perhaps even career leads.
Phi Theta Kappa is currently planning conferences in the five states to help community colleges become acquainted with the tool and its services. The expanded services are expected to roll out in the participating states this fall. Upon completion of the five state roll-out, Phi Theta Kappa hopes to open it to all community colleges across the country in 2013, Blalock said.
Appealing to four-year institutions
The program will enhance its senior college resources that allow them to use the tool to recruit community college students. Some basic information will be provided for free to participating baccalaureate institutions; upgraded services and information will be available for a fee based on the number of students that the college or university wants to recruit.
Most four-year colleges and universities have an enrollment management plan that outlines the types of students they are looking for, from international students to students from a particular zip code, Blalock said. CollegeFish.org will be able to compile that information.
“There are a lot of variables that you can pool, providing senior colleges with the best fit for transfer students,” she said.
Blalock noted that Phi Theta Kappa is mindful of privacy issues, and has developed the system to connect only with institutions that match with students’ profile—and it gives them the option not to receive information from a particular institution, too.
CollegeFish.org also aligns with Phi Theta Kappa’s focus on completing a college credential. The site aims to promote completion of the community college degree prior to transfer and to connect students to campus resources that can support their ability to overcome personal, academic, and financial issues that may impact completion success. (Community college students who transfer often don’t earn a certificate or degree before shifting to a baccalaureate college, and they often don’t complete their baccalaureate because personal issues may prompt them to drop out.)
The expanded online tool will allow students to review a four-year college’s articulation agreements as well as 2+2 transfer pathways that will encourage students to attain a credential at a community college on their way to earning a baccalaureate degree.
Copyright ©2014 American Association of Community Colleges