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A reverse transfer system comes to CUNY

Chancellor James Milliken announced last month a new program allowing transfer students to finish their associate’s degree as they work toward a bachelor’s degree at a senior college.

The program encourages transfer students to senior colleges at CUNY, while helping students remain academically competitive.

This is a reverse transfer as, once the required credits are reached, students receive an associate’s degree from their previous community college.

“We know that many students transfer to senior colleges before earning associate degrees, and we want to do everything we can to give our students every credential they’ve earned and give them an advantage in the marketplace,” Milliken said. “The associate’s degree can also advance their careers, studies and earning power.”

In 2014, the Department of Education published a study finding people with an associate’s degree make nearly $10,000 more than those with a high school diploma. This makes the degree valuable for students, especially for those in the CUNY system.

Ivelisse Rosario-Natal, a transfer adviser at Queens College, sympathized with students looking to get their degrees to secure jobs in the future.

Rosario-Natal said reverse transfers could help thousands of students, even some she knows.

“You just started here, and you’re already thinking about your job,” Rosario-Natal said. “The fact that you have an associate’s, while working on a bachelor’s makes you more marketable in the work environment,”

Chumwo Lin, 27, is a sophomore at QC that transferred from LaGuardia Community College last year. Today he is a full-time student majoring in East Asian studies, and enjoys the education he receives.

“The lectures are higher quality here,” Lin said.

Lin transferred after his daily commute to class interfered with his job. It became necessary for him to do so—he pays for tuition without any financial aid.

Lin believed the new program would create a safeguard for transfer students in case anything happens to them.

“The program will allow you to stay enrolled in case you have to drop classes and start working,” Lin said.

No timeline for the program exists, and specifics regarding its implementation are still pending. But Milliken views the initiative as beneficial for thousands of students in the CUNY system.

“Because CUNY is an integrated university, we can support students who choose to pursue baccalaureate studies, while assuring they get the valuable associate’s degree that first attracted them to the university,” Milliken said.

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