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Navigating the Path from Community College to Prestigious Private University


Private four-year colleges are increasingly looking to the community college transfer pipeline to broaden access and diversify the student body. For President Carol L. Folt, it’s personal. As a community college transfer student, she discovered a lifelong passion for biology, then went on to assume top leadership positions and presidencies at three campuses: Dartmouth College; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and now the University of Southern California.

For the second of two interviews focused on increasing community college transfer to private four-year institutions, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program asked President Folt about her approach to building transfer pathways, promoting a sense of belonging on campus, and ensuring these students’ success. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Aspen Institute: Tell us about your own community college transfer story. What motivated you to transfer to the University of California, Santa Barbara?

Although I dropped out of the Ohio State University before completing my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to pursue a four-year education. My family didn’t have the money to support that dream, so I had to work my way through school. I decided to move to California, where I knew I […]

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