The Students Empowered Educated Determined (SEED) program was started in 2012 to support DSF Scholars to successfully transfer to a four-year college and complete a bachelor’s degree. With 80% of DSF Scholars who start at community colleges indicating they want a bachelor’s degree, Denver Scholarship pioneered a program to directly address this challenge with our largest community college partner, the Community College of Denver (CCD).
This program directly addresses the biggest obstacles researchers have identified for community college students seeking to obtain a bachelor’s degree. The biggest of these obstacles is lost college credits during the transfer process. The greater the credit loss, the less likely the student will earn a bachelor’s degree. Students who managed to have almost all of their credits to transfer are 2.5 times more likely to earn a four-year degree than their peers. More often than not, the transfer process is complicated and unclear. Students face this additional barrier to transfer where there is a lack of access to information or strong advising on transfer pathways and processes.
With the rising cost of tuition, many students seeking a bachelor’s degree first enroll at community colleges. Historically, the odds of successfully transferring to a four-year college and earning a bachelor’s degree are low: nationally only 14% of community college students will earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of entering a community college. Additionally, DSF discovered that prior to 2011 the transfer rate at Community College of Denver was less than 2% for DSF Scholars.
The SEED Program has supported a group of 190 DSF Scholars enrolled at CCD who wish to transfer to a four-year degree program, with additional support for students transferring to Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) or the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). Starting with summer transition programs, SEED participants, working with DSF advisors, receive one-on-one counseling sessions to ensure that Scholars:
- Begin working with a transfer advisor from the four-year school as early as possible
- Complete their CCD courses on time
- Take CCD courses that transfer to a four-year institution
- Successfully complete the transfer application process
- Develop and follow a customized Graduation Plan
- Participate in the Tutor-Mentor program
- Are connected to an Early Alert system activated when a Scholar begins to struggle
- Are provided with Pre- and Post-Transfer Support, including waived transfer fees at MSU
Denver and CU Denver campuses
The results are amazing and proof positive that the combination of support services, scholarship support and college commitment lead to significant, measurable results for our students.
- Increased the transfer rate of CCD DSF Scholars from 2% to 81%
- 71% of participants who transfer are on track to complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years
- Increased GPA for participants: 3.23, compared to 2.85 for non-SEED participants at CCD
- Higher persistence/graduation rate for participants: 90% persistence/graduation rate, compared to only 61% for non-SEED, DSF Scholars at CCD
The SEED program is a primary example of effective, outcome-oriented DSF college success efforts. Best practices established through this program have been replicated by other DSF programs, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, and the Colorado Challenge.
Expanding SEED will be transformational for students and for Denver. We seek to build out the SEED program model to support more students who wish to transfer from a community college to a four-year institution. With the appropriate infrastructure and support staff in place, we believe that the SEED transfer model will work for all DSF Scholars at CCD and at all of our two-year partner institutions. With CCD, MSU Denver, & CU Denver serving a substantial proportion of our Scholars each year, the expansion of this program would significantly increase the number of DPS graduates able to compete for local jobs as college graduates.