Students enrolled in Volunteer Bridge—an invitation-only dual-enrollment program between Pellissippi State Community College and UT—will now find it easier to get their associate’s degree while continuing their college studies.
Volunteer Bridge, now in its fifth year, guarantees seamless transfer to UT for selected students who complete their first year of study at Pellissippi State. Students are invited into the program after applying to UT and can live on the UT campus during the Pellissippi State portion of their studies.
This week, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise will meet on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus to sign an updated memorandum of understanding that spells out improved efforts to offer students the option of reverse transfer.
The signing will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5, in the College Center, located in the Goins Administration Building on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley campus.
Under Tennessee Board of Regents policy, reverse transfer is the process of awarding an associate’s degree to community college students who have transferred to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree.
To be eligible for reverse transfer, students must have earned at least 15 hours at the community college. That makes Volunteer Bridge students ideal candidates; to qualify for seamless transfer to UT as sophomores, they are required to complete 30 transferable hours at Pellissippi State and maintain a program GPA of 2.5 or higher.
“This is just another step for us in our partnership with Pellissippi State Community College and will help ensure the future of Volunteer Bridge,” Cheek said. “As the landscape of higher education continues to evolve in Tennessee, transfer students are an important part of our student population. Even beyond Volunteer Bridge, UT is an ideal next step for many Pellissippi State students.”
Wise echoed that: “Pellissippi State has a long history of partnership with the University of Tennessee, and the Volunteer Bridge program is just the latest example of working together to create pathways for student access and success. I have every confidence that this program and our partnership will grow and thrive for years to come.”
While reverse transfer has been possible in the past, this agreement makes it more routine for Volunteer Bridge students. Once students have earned the requisite number of credits—for most Bridge students, that will be during their junior year—they will get an email informing them they are eligible for reverse transfer. With one click, students can opt in, which allows UT to send their transcript information to Pellissippi State to be reviewed for awarding the degree.
There is no cost to the student and no other paperwork is required.
“We are simply making it a routine part of the Volunteer Bridge experience,” said Jason Mastrogiovanni, director of First-Year Studies. “Although Bridge students have their eye on finishing their bachelor’s degrees, it’s beneficial for them to have their associate’s degree in hand. It is a marketable and important milestone. Students may also find that an associate’s degree increases their eligibility to land certain internships or jobs while they complete their studies.”
Volunteer Bridge students already have a better-than-average opt-in rate for reverse transfer.
Last year, 27 percent of all UT transfer students opted in; by comparison, 33 percent of Volunteer Bridge students opted in.
Julia Wood, Pellissippi State (865-694-6530, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Amy Blakely, UT Knoxville (865-974-5034, email@example.com)