As part of its mission to provide a quality education to North Carolinians of all backgrounds, the University is expanding its partnership with the state’s community colleges, bringing its Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program to Guilford Technical Community College and Central Piedmont Community College. UNC also is launching a new component, Pathways to STEM Success, to support students entering the STEM workforce. The expansion is made possible by a $1.13 million grant from the N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.
Because many low- and moderate-income students pursuing higher education start out at community colleges, the University launched C-STEP in 2006 to enable more community college students to transfer to and graduate from Carolina. Through C-STEP, Carolina identifies high-achieving high school seniors and community college students whose household incomes fall at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and guarantees entry to Carolina following the completion of an associate degree with cumulative grade-point averages of at least 3.2 at a partner community college. GTCC, based in Guilford County, and CPCC, based in Charlotte, are the latest colleges to join 11 other partner schools.
“As a community college transfer student myself, C-STEP is particularly meaningful to me,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I have witnessed how C-STEP provides opportunities for our students to pursue higher education and advance their dreams while enriching the university experience for everyone around them.”
The initiative seeks to build on C-STEP’s advising programs and leverage Carolina’s experience in training STEM and health professionals. Students will receive field-specific mentoring to prepare them for graduate study or careers in STEM and health professions, and they will have opportunities for immersive experiences, such as summer internships and lab assistantships.
Upon graduation, these students will be designated N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation C-STEP STEM Scholars and will wear a distinguishing cord with their gowns at Commencement.
Jobs in STEM fields are expected to grow 13 percent between 2017 and 2027, with 2.4 million of those jobs going unfilled in 2018.
Once students enroll in C-STEP, the program provides transition and support services, such as dedicated academic advising from community college to and through UNC, mentoring, and networking opportunities and special seminars.
Nationally, more than 80 percent of community college students intend to earn at least a bachelor’s degree, but about 25 percent actually transfer and 17 percent complete a bachelor’s degree. C-STEP students earn their bachelor’s degree at a rate of 85.5 percent. Almost 800 transfer students enter UNC each year, with about 44 percent transferring from North Carolina community colleges.
“Worth the Wait,” March/April 2007 Carolina Alumni Review