ANNAPOLIS – In an innovative approach to easing the transition for transfer students, the Community College of Baltimore County and Towson University have entered into a partnership that allows some students to live and attend classes on the Towson campus before they are even enrolled in the university.
Although schools frequently collaborate on transfers, the Towson University Freshman Transition Program offers community college students some features not often seen, such as an opportunity to enjoy the support services, like counseling, and social events that are available to regular Towson students.
“There are a lot of opportunities offered to us,” said Jessica Polm, 18, who is participating in the new program this fall. “There’s a lot of resources that are combined, so I would say that we have a bigger advantage over the regular Towson students.”
Towson University President Robert L. Caret and Sandra Kurtinitis, president of the community college, met Oct. 1 to sign a memorandum regarding the transition program, which is designed to increase accessibility to Towson.
“It’s a marvelous linkage for students who want to gain entry to Towson but have a little more academic work to do,” said Kurtinitis. “We’re happy, we’re thrilled, to be able to play a role in helping them get ready to enter their baccalaureate career there.”
As part of the collaboration, students in the program are taught by instructors from the community college on the university’s campus.
“That’s a new program,” said Jody Kallis, legislative liaison for the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, an organization that represents the schools on statewide issues. “I haven’t heard of one like that.”
Students participating in the program fell just below the admission standards for Towson but still wished to attend the school. To be eligible to transfer to Towson in their second semester, the students are required to earn a grade of “C” or better in every class they take during their 12-credit fall semester.
“It’s excellent. It’s almost like a second chance,” said Polm, one of approximately 40 students who are participating in the program this year.
Almost all of the students participating in the program chose to live on the Towson campus. The students also receive Towson identification cards.
“They are totally integrated in the campus community and they receive the same services that other freshman students receive,” said Vince Pecora, director of financial aid at Towson. Pecora serves as a liaison between the university and college.
The transition program facilitates ease of transfer for students by offering only general education classes that will be accepted by Towson, eliminating the issue of non-transferable credits.
“It’s all about partnerships, partnerships and linkages,” said Kurtinitis.
Although the new program’s students are eligible to partake in campus events, there are often scheduling conflicts.
“Our classes are actually so late at night that we’re actually unable to participate in a lot of the sports and activities that go on at campus,” said Polm. All of the program’s classes are held after 2 p.m. to make use of empty classrooms. “Most of us don’t get out until 9:40 [p.m.]”
Despite this hindrance, participants feel like they are a part of the campus community.
“I would consider myself a Towson student,” said Polm. “I know the Towson campus like the back of my hand.”