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UCF, Eastern Florida Celebrate Success of DirectConnect
November 9, 2015 - The DirectConnect to UCF program this month is celebrating 10 years of helping students gain access to higher education and transform their lives.
The program guarantees students’ admission to the University of Central Florida with an associate degree from one of the university’s six partner colleges, which includes Eastern Florida State College.
Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey joined UCF President John Hitt and others Monday in Orlando to mark the event, noting the two institutions created the forerunner to the program in 1968 and called it 2+2.
About 1,000 graduates from Eastern Florida attend UCF annually through what's now called DirectConnect.
“The program is essential in providing excellent higher educational opportunities to students along the Space Coast, and we’re proud that our pioneering partnership with UCF has expanded over the years to include more colleges and students,” said Richey.
Brevard County students can take UCF classes at two UCF satellite campuses located on Eastern Florida’s Cocoa and Palm Bay campuses.
Other DirectConnect partners are Daytona State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Valencia College, Seminole State College and the College of Central Florida in Ocala.
Students from the state colleges are assisted through the transition to UCF with admission help and advising that’s tailored to the transfer experience.
In all, more than 41,000 students have enrolled at UCF through the program in the past decade with about 71 percent going on to graduate within six years.
DirectConnect to UCF has helped diversify UCF’s student body, growing it from a 25 percent minority population about a decade ago to about 41 percent currently.
There has also been a 134 percent increase in Hispanic graduates among DirectConnect students from 2009 to 2014 and the number of African-American graduates has nearly doubled.
The program has been recognized nationally for creating a seamless pipeline of social mobility through access to higher education.
Publications including the Washington Post, PBS Newshour and Politico have suggested DirectConnect as a blue print for other communities to follow.
The program, through the power of partnerships, tackles another 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. This does not happen to DirectConnect to UCF transfers.
The program has grown and been enhanced during the 10 years as leaders focus on improving the student experience.
For example, a pathway component was launched earlier this year. It provides stronger and earlier career and academic preparation, offers structured and guided support to students before, during, and after their transfer, affords opportunities to develop and advance skills in order to promote career success and ultimately offers a smoother and easier transition experience.
In January, UCF will launch a similar program to DirectConnect to UCF that's strictly for online degrees, called UCF Online.
Students who earn an associate degree from a community college can be connected with a fully online degree offered at UCF. This allows for greater schedule flexibility, which benefits Central Florida businesses who rely on part-time employees because these students will have a greater ability to juggle work and school.