Southwest extends MTSU Promise to its students

Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement Tuesday (Nov. 6) to extend the MTSU Promise to Southwest Tennessee Community College, the third such pathway established for students with associate degrees to move seamlessly to the four-year university.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Southwest President Tracy D. Hall

signed the documents at Esplande Memphis in Cordova as MTSU started the West Tennessee leg of its True Blue Tour, a 14-city, four-state caravan to recruit prospective students.

Southwest is the third community college to join the MTSU Promise program, in which the university pledges support to help students at partner schools complete their associate degree, then move forward in seeking a four-year degree.

McPhee inked agreements earlier this year with Motlow State and Cleveland State community colleges.

“Extending the MTSU Promise to Southwest strengthens our already strong ties with this terrific community college,” McPhee said. “It will allow our advisers to help their great students transition to our campus.”

Calling it “an absolutely fabulous day that has been a little while in the making,” Hall said it is “a wonderful way to formalize our partnership and a wonderful opportunity for the two institutions.”

“At Southwest, we are all about student success and opportunities, and to be able to transfer to a high-quality, well-run university that has a beautiful campus with all the academic opportunities is a plus,” Hall added.

The agreement calls for Southwest to share with MTSU directory information of the college’s students so they are included in tailored communications of emails and hard-copy mailings that support the process of planning for the bachelor’s degree after successful completion of the associate degree.

Also, the agreement says Southwest students who agree to participate in the MTSU Promise will sign a “reverse transfer” agreement, meaning if they fail to complete their associate degrees prior to transfer, they would automatically receive their associate degree from Cleveland once sufficient credits have been completed at MTSU.

MTSU is No. 1 in the state in transfer students and is the top institution using the reverse transfer process.

Through its existing Guaranteed Transfer Scholarship Program, MTSU will provide aid for Southwest students who transfer to MTSU in the amount of $3,000 per year for two years, or a maximum of four semesters, based on achievement of a 3.0 GPA.

Students transferring to MTSU will not be eligible to apply to receive the Guaranteed Transfer Scholarship until after completing 45 credit hours at Southwest.

Deb Sells, MTSU’s vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment services, said the application deadline annually is Feb. 15, which means the majority of participating Southwest students will have completed 60 credits before transfer.

Sells also said MTSU will revise letters of rejection for students in the Southwest service area who apply to MTSU for freshman admission, but who are not admitted.

The letters will also say the student is being placed in a “deferred admission” category, and that MTSU recommends that they enroll at Southwest for two years of study under the Tennessee Promise, the state-funded scholarship that pays tuition and fees for two-year colleges.

MTSU will also guarantee to such students that if they complete 60 credits with a 3.0 GPA at Southwest, they will be guaranteed admission and a scholarship to attend MTSU for their last two years of study, Sells said.

Hall said she and Southwest “appreciate the partnership and I appreciate the friendship (with McPhee and others) through the years and I look forward to our students being even more successful at MTSU.”

McPhee added the agreement “represents efforts on both parts to make sure students have a good experience once they transfer. … We want students to complete the necessary requirements to not only get their degree from MTSU, but also (their associate) degree from Southwest.”

McPhee said Memphis-area students who do not meet MTSU’s high admissions standards will be referred to Southwest “to get back up to speed” and if they meet the requirements will receive a guaranteed admittance to MTSU.”

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