David Mesta representing LeadMN at the 2022 D.C. Summit.
As a first generation college student who has attended multiple colleges and universities I have experienced first hand the unnecessary barriers that still exist for students when transferring between institutions. In 2021, I graduated from South Central College with my associate's degree and decided to transfer to Mankato to pursue a degree in Communication. In order to save money I also enrolled at Normandale to take courses that would count towards my bachelors degree.
During this time, the complexity of our transfer system and poor academic advising on transfer nearly cost me thousands of dollars. I was advised to drop out of my courses at Normandale because they would not count towards my bachelors degree, even though I had done the research to know that they were equivalent to university courses in my program. It was not financially feasible for me to take courses only at the university, as the high tuition costs and uncertainty about my Pell Grant eligibility due to fluctuating family income would put me in an untenable financial situation and currently I have to pay out of pocket to attend both institutions.
80% of community and technical college students express a desire to transfer to a four-year university, yet only 22.5% transfer in the first three years.
Only 13% Of first-time, full-time community college students complete a bachelor's degree six years after enrolling in college.
Within the Minnesota State system, college level algebra has at least 28 different course numbers. This is a different course number for courses that are 100% equivalent.
I was eventually able to get the university to accept my community college credits as equivalent courses to those required in my program, but the complexity of the transfer process was evident. I was lucky enough to make it through, but there are countless numbers of students who do not. In Minnesota alone only 13% Of first-time and full-time community college students complete a bachelor’s degree six years after enrolling in college. If I wasn't fortunate enough I would have become just another statistic of a Mexican college student who failed because of the barriers put in front of me and I have been very close to failing college and close to not achieving my American Dream.