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AIC Forges Admissions Program With Community Colleges

Vincent Maniaci, president of American International College, took a look at the application forms for Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College shortly after assuming his post in August.

He noted that by checking a box, students accepted at one of the two institutions were given the option of seamlessly transferring to Westfield State College or UMass Amherst after the successful completion of coursework at one of the two-year colleges.

He then approached STCC president Ira Rubenzahl and HCC president William Messner with a simple request: “I want AIC to have its own box,” he said.
And four weeks later, it did.

HCC and STCC announced this month that they have entered into a dual admissions agreement with AIC, creating the first such arrangement with a private, four-year institution in the area. Under the new admissions agreement, students who are accepted to one of the two community colleges can opt to continue their education at AIC after the successful completion of two years of coursework.

“Many students are already well-served by the dual admissions agreements with WSC and UMass,” Maniaci said, “but there are still many students who would be well-served at AIC, and we felt a program like this would benefit all three institutions. Students with direction are more likely to graduate from college, and increasing the number of college graduates in our area is a civically-conscious goal that we will continue to focus on in the future.”

The partnership creates a number of incentives for students during their college career, according to Pauline Mortenson, director of international and transfer admissions at AIC. Students who sign up for dual (or joint) admissions when applying to STCC or HCC will have access to a variety of AIC services, including academic advising, mentoring, financial aid counseling, the college’s library, and all student functions including social and athletic events. That will help those students achieve the grade point average needed to continue at AIC after two years at STCC or HCC, Mortenson said, adding that the requirements vary from major to major. But it will also allow those students to integrate themselves into the AIC community early on.

“Students will receive a special ID card that gives them access to the campus right away,” Mortenson said. “And it also allows us to get to them sooner. We can help them choose courses that will transfer to AIC or help them to be more prepared when they get here, and it lets us guide them through the process and make the entire experience better for them.”

Mortenson added that upon entering the joint admissions program, students are automatically allocated a $4,000 scholarship that goes into effect when they begin classes as AIC after completing two years at STCC or HCC. That scholarship can be coupled with additional transfer scholarships to AIC, often awarded to transfer students with high grade point averages, and with all government-funded financial aid.

HCC President William Messner concurred that the agreement has clear benefits for students who wish to transfer to a four-year college, streamlining the process and providing specialized guidance along the way.
“The scholarship and student activities components should engage students and further smoothen the transition,” he said.

Stephen H. Keller, vice president for academic affairs Springfield Technical Community College said the new partnership will offer added opportunities to the region’s college-bound residents.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students who are planning to complete a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “Traditionally, many of our graduating students have transferred on to pursue a bachelor’s degree at AIC, particularly in their business programs which mesh well with ours. This new agreement will allow the students to learn more about AIC’s campus and services while they’re still studying at STCC, to determine if AIC is a good fit for them.”

The program went into effect on Sept. 22, after Maniaci, Messner, and Rubenzahl simultaneously signed the paperwork finalizing the agreement. Mortenson said students have already begun to enroll.

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