St. Mary’s College of Maryland is joining a growing number of four-year schools that guarantee transfer admission to certain students who compile a solid academic record in a two-year community college.
The public liberal arts college, which has sought to raise enrollment after recruiting troubles in 2012 and 2013, announced this month that students who earn an associate’s degree from the College of Southern Maryland with a grade-point average of 2.75 or better will be eligible for automatic admission to St. Mary’s.
With 1,859 students last fall, St. Mary’s is seeking to boost its enrollment to about 2,000. Gary Sherman, its vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions, said that in the past year St. Mary’s accepted 38 transfers from the neighboring two-year college. Sherman said St. Mary’s would like to raise that number by 25 a year.
Many four-year colleges have established formal connections with two-year colleges, arrangements that tend to benefit both institutions and help students earn bachelor’s degrees at a reduced price.
Full-time tuition and fees in the next school year for Maryland residents will be $13,824 at St. Mary’s. The current price at the community college for students from Southern Maryland is about $4,170 if they take a full load of 30 credits in an academic year. That means a student could save thousands of dollars on a bachelor’s degree by starting at the community college.
Northern Virginia Community College has one of the nation’s largest transfer pipelines, sending about 2,700 students a year to George Mason University. Montgomery College and other two-year schools in Maryland also have strong ties with Maryland’s public universities.
Notably, St. Mary’s also adopted a “reverse transfer” arrangement with the College of Southern Maryland. That means a student who transfers to the four-year college before earning an associate’s degree — a common scenario — in the future will be able to apply credits earned from St. Mary’s toward obtaining the two-year diploma.