Steamboat Springs Like many high school students, Kindra Stanfill's grades were far from spectacular. Following her graduation from a Missouri high school, she wanted time away from classrooms, teachers and homework. So she took a year off.
"Right out of high school, I was just sick of school," Stanfill said.
Her parents moved from Missouri to Winter Park, and Stanfill, 20, came to Steamboat and enrolled at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.
"It just seemed easier to start out at a two-year school and get my feet wet," Stanfill said.
Now, Stanfill is ready to move on and earn a bachelor's degree from a four-year school, probably Fort Lewis College in Durango.
"I just love it (at CMC)," she said. "It's small, and I learn better in smaller classrooms. I didn't do really well in high school, but I'm doing really well here."
Stanfill is one semester away from completing her associate's transfer degree from CMC. The transfer degree has enabled her to take general education classes that will transfer to just about every four-year school in Colorado.
"I like it here, but I'm ready to move on," she said.
She's not alone.
CMC student counselor Dan Schaffrick said 80 percent of CMC Alpine Campus students seeking degrees plan to transfer to four-year schools.
About 500 of the 2,000 students who take classes at the local college are enrolled as degree-seekers.
"I didn't realize until recently that we had such a large number of students who transfer," Schaffrick said. "We really are a junior college when you look at it from that perspective."
It's a statistic CMC is proud of.
"We graduate as many students with transfer degrees as the rest of the CMC campuses combined," Schaffrick said. "Our students do very well at the four-year schools they go on to."
Students who start at community colleges often gain self-confidence through smaller classes and more individualized attention, Schaffrick said.
Kevin MacLennan, the associate director of admissions at the University of Colorado at Boulder, agreed.
"Maybe they're not ready for the size of CU-Boulder initially, and they want to start off smaller," MacLennan said. "We think that's absolutely a wonderful choice to make."
When transfer students arrive at larger institutions like CU, they know how to handle university-level courses, MacLennan said.
"Academically, they're already pretty confident," he said. "I certainly think (community colleges) allow a nice transition."
Colorado universities and community colleges are standardizing their general education courses to make transferring easier, MacLennan said.
It also ensures hard-earned credits at junior colleges won't be lost in the transfer shuffle.
"It does help a great deal because having to transfer mid-way through your education can be confusing," Schaffrick said.
CMC offers two types of transfer degrees: associate of science and associate of arts.
Students can choose to place a particular emphasis, such as business, on their transfer degree.
"In our transfer degrees, we're trying to mirror what a university would have their freshmen and sophomores do," Schaffrick said.
The majority of the students who transfer from CMC to four-year schools remain in Colorado, Schaffrick said. The University of Colorado and Colorado State University are the two most popular choices for transfer students, he said.
As the cost of education continues to rise, CMC expects more students to select it as a first choice before deciding whether to transfer to a four-year institution.
"Community college has become a much more practical option for families who are concerned about the expense of education," Schaffrick said. "Every year, it seems like there are more and more kids who are seeking this campus as a first choice rather than a last alternative."