In its first partnership with an out-of-state school, Carroll Community College has signed an agreement to help interested students transfer to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.
Carroll students who earn their two-year diploma and meet admission requirements can enter Dickinson's four-year liberal arts program as juniors, said Kristine DeWitt, director of counseling and career development at the community college.
"I see Maryland as an area where the students are likely to be predisposed toward the type of education we offer at Dickinson," said Robert J. Massa, Dickinson's vice president for enrollment and college relations. "But Maryland does not have a lot of small private colleges.
"Students who may be interested in private college only have to look across the border."
The arrangement means county students can pay just $2,400 a year for a full course load of 30 credits at Carroll for their first two years, DeWitt said, before attending Dickinson for their last two years. Dickinson charges $29,000 a year tuition and board, and gains by filling slots left by transfers.
The agreement was signed last month by Carroll's president, Faye Pappalardo, and Dickinson's, William Durden.
Carroll participates in a similar agreement with public and private colleges across Maryland, DeWitt said, but this is its first out of state.
"They're one of the first colleges in the United States, and we're the newest college in Maryland. It's a nice juxtaposition," she said. "It's fairly close, so our students may be familiar with it."
Carroll has about 2,400 students, 824 of them full time and about one-third in liberal arts programs. Dickinson, a 225-year-old liberal arts residential college, is north of Gettysburg and has about 2,000 students.
"Dickinson College is one hour from Westminster," said Massa, who has been forging bonds with community colleges in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Massa was dean of admissions and enrollment for the Johns Hopkins University until August. He said his 10 years in Maryland familiarized him with the quality of its community colleges.
Dickinson has ventured into Maryland before, with a similar agreement with Howard Community College, Massa said. It has also signed an agreement with Harrisburg Area Community College, and is developing agreements with Bucks County and Montgomery County community colleges in Pennsylvania, and with Montgomery College and probably at least one other Maryland community college.
"These articulation agreements are better for the students, clearly," said Norma G. Kent, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Community Colleges.
With an average cost per year of $1,500, "we think it makes a whole lot of sense to get the basic preparation at a two-year college," she said. "I think the overall awareness of the quality of a community college education has gone up."
Massa said Dickinson had several reasons to form a relationship with a community college.
"Community colleges are enrolling a larger percentage of students directly from high school than they ever have before. Students who 10 years ago might have gone directly from high school to a four-year college are choosing community colleges -- for financial reasons, but also because the quality of education at community colleges has been enhanced.
"So what we find, of course, is many good students attending community colleges," he said. "Liberal arts colleges tend to be private and therefore more expensive. Graduates of community colleges will, in fact, realize a significant discount on a bachelor's degree, because their first two years are paid at the community college rate."
Carroll officials are thrilled about the relationship.
"We're delighted to point out that you can start at Carroll and matriculate at Dickinson College," DeWitt said.
Carroll's general education requirements are similar to what Dickinson calls its academic core courses.
Carroll Community College was founded in the late 1970s as an offshoot of Catonsville Community College. It became independent in 1993.
According to the agreement, transfer students must have at least a 3.0 or B average, and only grades of C or better will be transferred. DeWitt plans a transfer advisement day Feb. 10 that will include a Dickinson representative.
Dickinson also plans to be the host of community college days on its campus for potential transfers, Massa said, "to show what this type of residential college is all about."
But it shouldn't be too unfamiliar, he said.
"Even though Dickinson is a national college -- it draws from all over the country -- about half our students are from the mid-Atlantic. Maryland is our neighbor, and it is very close and it is a great state."