Options for Obtaining Student Consent to Participate in Reverse Transfer: Insights from North Carolina

by Michelle Blackwell / Jan 23, 2015

There are many ways to acquire consent from students to participate in reverse transfer (RT), and this blog will discuss a variety of options based on North Carolina’s experience in the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative.  In approaching this subject, we interpret FERPA rules and regulations to mean that there must be active opportunities for students to confirm or deny participation (a discussion of other FERPA rules and regulations are left for a future discussion).

Some important factors need to be considered when developing student consent methods, including language, type of available technology, and identifying qualified students.

Why is language important?  First, competition for students’ attention in all forms of communication is intense. Succinct and clear details on what RT is, how the RT process works, and what students have to do in order to participate is crucial. Second, conveying the importance of degree completion to students’ futures is just as important in convincing the student to participate.  With 15 states and many other community colleges and universities now implementing RT, as well as foundations and OCCRL weighing in, there are many examples of why the associate’s degree can improve students’ lives.

Why is technology important?  More and more processes in higher education are accomplished with technology, so developing appropriate and effective technological solutions tend to be more efficient for obtaining student participation and tracking it.  Here are some examples to consider which incorporate technology, the ability to design the appropriate language, and convey RT’s importance:

Integrate Consent Into the Transfer Admissions Application

  • This solution integrates RT consent into an existing institutional process
  • Depending on the software used for the institutional admissions application, this solution could limit the amount of text used
  • This solution may not be an option if the state has multiple admissions applications. In North Carolina, there is a state-wide admissions application, individual university admission applications, and the common application which is used by some of our institutions. Instead of integrating consent into three admission applications, we choose to integrate consent into the student services account option below.

Email Current Students to Obtain Consent

  • This process is currently being used by many institutions in the beginning stages of RT and as the primary communication method. North Carolina utilized this method initially to drive students to a website to login to consent.
  • North Carolina also emailed students repeatedly and we highly recommended this strategy in order to get a good return rate.
  • We also provided incentives for students to participate such as early registration and a gift card drawing.

Integrate a Pop-up Screen within Students’ Self-Services Account

  • North Carolina implemented this solution and it requires collaboration with IT to program consent as well as assistance tracking students’ responses over time.
  • This options allows for flexibility in terms of when potential RT students can be contacted, either at the point of entry to the university or when they meet eligibility requirements.
  • This option allows for more flexibility in designing the language to clearly articulate RT information to students.

These suggestions are a few of the ways institutions and states can implement the consent process for RT.   Throughout this process, North Carolina has repeatedly heard from students who want their associate’s degree

while getting their bachelor’s degree.  North Carolina would like to thank our funder USA Funds and all the other states for their invaluable feedback during this process of establishing a state wide RT program.  We would also like to thank the staff of the pilot universities and community colleges in North Carolina who have contributed their ideas and solutions to implementing RT in North Carolina.

Michelle Blackwell is Director of the Reverse Transfer Program at the University of North Carolina. Ms. Blackwell serves as the program director for the joint grant funded project between University of North Carolina and North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) entitled “Credit When It’s Due.”