Session: Academic Transfer Is a Social Equity Issue: Why Aren't We Talking about It More? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

231 Academic Transfer Is a Social Equity Issue: Why Aren't We Talking about It More?

Saturday, January 14, 2023: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Valley of the Sun E, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Research on Social Work Education
Christopher Robinson, DEd, Pennsylvania State University
Michele Belliveau, PhD, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Christopher Robinson, DEd, Pennsylvania State University, Kathy Schank, MSS, Delaware County Community College, Margaret Smith, PhD, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and Stephanie Turin, MSW, Westmoreland County Community College
Given the rising cost of higher education, many social work students begin their academic careers in community college. According to the Community College Research Center (CCRC), given its low tuition and open-access mission, community college is an entry point to higher education for over 40% of U.S. undergraduates (2015). Despite this, the focus of social work accreditation, curriculum, research, and field education continues to be at the undergraduate and graduate program levels. By ignoring the needs of diverse students who begin in community college, as professionals and educators, we are perpetuating many of the inequity gaps we seek to address as social workers.

Many community college students experience economic insecurity and, if social work students, come from the vulnerable groups and neighborhoods of their future clients. A recent study by the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) reported that one-third of community college students experience housing insecurity, and 12% experience food insecurity (Wood, Harris, & Delgado, 2016). The social work profession would benefit from graduating more social workers who have intimate knowledge of poverty and vulnerability. Yet, students may not attain their goals without support, guidance, and a clear transfer process requiring considerable institutional commitment.

CCEAL data are consistent with research showing transfer rates from community college to four-year institutions differ by social background, particularly parental socioeconomic status (SES). According to Dougherty and Kienzl (2006), students whose parents have a higher income and higher-status jobs have a large and statistically significant advantage in transfer over their lower socioeconomic status peers. If transfer from a community college is a gateway to a professional four-year degree and an avenue for upward mobility (CCRC, 2015), then the authors argue we need to look at how low SES hampers the transfer process, particularly for students transferring to professional majors.

We bring diverse perspectives to this roundtable as faculty directors from BSW/MSW programs in large, regional comprehensive public universities and two-year community college programs that developed Associate degrees in Social Work. We will provide perspectives on the need for smooth academic transfer for social work students and all students who do not possess the social or economic capital to begin college. We will discuss the academic transfer, statewide articulation agreements, the unique needs of transfer students in field education, and the challenges presented by state educational systems that do not provide advanced social work degrees through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). When we talk about battling inequities and building solutions, we must do this in our own institutions of professional education.

When transfer students complete a four-year BSW degree in an accredited program and progress to an advanced standing MSW degree, community college programs are the first step in the accredited social work education continuum. Given the growth in transfer students and their diversities in social work programs, this first step in the continuum deserves greater attention.

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