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A defining aspect of The Community College Partnership Program is its active, coordinated and structured approach—a strategy that goes well beyond the typical articulation agreements between most community and four-year colleges. Students interested in the program are identified in their first-year and Dickinson staff, working with community college advisors and counselors, will ensure the selected students receive the support, coaching and course work needed to transfer and be successful at Dickinson. Potential matriculates must earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 and graduate with a transferable associate’s degree to enable students to matriculate with junior status and complete a bachelor’s of arts or sciences degree at Dickinson in two years.

Community College Partnership Program students will enter Dickinson as a group, a strategy that is similar to other cohort groups on campus. The idea is that students adjust and perform better when they have a built-in support system and all the members are going through a similar experience. While some transfers will take place this year, a distinctive feature of this program is the close working relationship of both institutions with select students.

As community colleges have developed selective honors programs, more students who would have previously begun at a four-year college are instead beginning their higher education at a community college. In the U.S., demographic changes forecast that over the next ten years community colleges will need to educate an increasing number of lower income, first generation and minority students. Those same demographic shifts will affect private four-year colleges, as these students are less likely to enroll at these institutions as first-year students.

In these challenging economic times, the partnership offers students a new approach to financing and completing their college education. The program introduces a new “tuition model” for higher education at a time when students and their families are particularly nervous about their ability to meet the cost of a college education—particularly at private, liberal-arts colleges. Financial incentives from Dickinson, in the form of a community college scholarship up to $15,000, plus other grants and financial aid to meet fully their demonstrated need so that tuition is neither an obstacle nor a deterrent.