Dr. Sandy Shugart and presidents of four other state colleges recently joined University of Central Florida officials to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the DirectConnect to UCF program — a groundbreaking guaranteed-transfer program that has transformed college education in Central Florida.
Begun in 2005, DirectConnect has been recognized nationally for creating a seamless pipeline of social mobility through access to higher education. Other publications have suggested DirectConnect to UCF is a blueprint for other communities to follow. Among the publications praising the program are Politico Magazine , PBS Newshour and the Washington Post .
More than 41,000 students have enrolled at UCF through the DirectConnect program and about 71 percent of DirectConnect student have gone on to graduate within six years.
The program, through the power of partnerships, tackles a tough problem. While the majority of college freshmen in America today begin at two-year community colleges, their credits often don’t transfer to four-year institutions. According to some surveys, some students lose up to 90 percent of their credits when they transfer to a four-year institution. This does not happen to DirectConnect to UCF transfers.
For Valencia students, such as Cathy Gutierrez, that provides a chance to save money and stay at home while earning a degree that will guarantee acceptance at UCF. Cathy, who is from Kissimmee, graduated from Valencia’s Osceola Campus and then transferred to UCF. She landed a full scholarship to Harvard Medical School two years ago.
“DirectConnect was indispensable in my education,” she said. “Many students have been known to fall through the cracks during this transition, and DirectConnect to UCF does a wonderful job of sealing that gap and truly enabling and encouraging students to walk the extra mile. I believe DirectConnect to UCF levels the playing field a bit for students who may not have had the same resources as students who naturally progress from high school directly to a major university.”
You can read more about the DirectConnect anniversary celebration — and the program’s achievements — on the UCF news site.