This study sought to examine and comprehensively describe transfer students who have earned a two-year technical or occupational Associate in Science (AS) degree at the community college and entered the university to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS).
The BSAS degree is a specialized baccalaureate degree program created to allow AS degree holders an opportunity to efficiently transfer into the university affording them full recognition of their two-year degree. This statewide articulated program at the University of South Florida is the first of its kind in the state of Florida. The program only began admitting its first students in the fall term of 2003.
Prior to the creation of the BSAS degree, most AS degree holders were not admissible to the university. If they did meet admission requirements based upon competitive freshman admission requirements, only about 15-18 credits of the 60+ credits earned through their AS degree were transferable. Before the BSAS there were no efficient means for most AS degree holders to pursue higher education beyond their two-year degree.
The first five years of this new bachelor’s degree program have been very successful. The BSAS program has consistently experienced enrollment growth every year, and the specialized “areas of concentration” have continued to expand offering even greater opportunity for AS degree holders to pursue meaningful baccalaureate studies in support of their academic, professional or personal goals.
The AS-to-BS transfer students represent a relatively new student population at the university and this population is steadily growing. The university has historically had little experience with them, and consequently we know little about them. This study was an analysis of AS-BSAS transfer students to determine their characteristics, engagement and success at the university. The study revealed that they are, in fact, a unique student population at the university who are generally disengaged with university life, but performing very well academically. Their average age is 37 years old. They are predominately working adults with family responsibilities. They are conscientious students who are persisting and completing their bachelor’s degree in less time than the national average for all transfer students.
Overall, the results of this study suggest that we may need to make adjustments to our transfer and articulation policies, our admission practices, and closely examine the broader services of the university to ensure we meet the holistic needs of this new, exclusive, atypical, workforce focused, and growing population of students at the university.