Transferring to the NIU Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) is now an easy option for College of DuPage students who want direct routes to bachelor’s degrees and vibrant careers.
Clear 2+2 pathways have been developed for all three undergraduate programs – Kinesiology, Physical Education and Sport Management – that deliver the extra benefit of academic advising from both institutions to keep students on track.
“It’s a good transition for a lot of students,” says Tony Calderala, an academic advisor in KNPE who helped to draft the articulation agreement.
“We talk a lot about how starting at the community college allows them to lay a baseline down, with a little bit more of a safety net for error in their coursework,” Calderala adds, “and prepares them to be ready to be academically successful here at NIU.”
KNPE Chair Todd Gilson believes the new deal will not only help COD students assimilate to the NIU sooner but provide comfort for a smooth transition.
“The world’s getting more complicated, and higher ed is no different. There are more stipulations. There are more things you’ve got to know. If you take a 2+2, one of the benefits of it is that it removes a barrier,” Gilson says.
“When students walk into a community college, they can know – or have assurances – that, ‘If I do X, Y and Z, I know that I can matriculate to NIU and I’m on a path to graduate when I want to graduate. I know my plan, I know where I’m going and I know when I can finish.’ ”
All participating students will earn 63 credits at DuPage, including both general education and major-specific credits required for both institutions, before transferring to NIU.
Kinesiology majors must complete another 57 to 59 credits in DeKalb, pending elective options, while Sport Management students will enroll in 58 additional credits.
P.E. majors, meanwhile, need to earn 77 credits as Huskies, which includes their clinical placements and student-teaching semesters.
DuPage faculty in Physical Education, Fitness and Sport Studies describe the new partnership with NIU as “an excellent fit” for students looking to pursue careers in those fields.
“COD offers a quality educational foundation,” says Stephanie Vlach, an assistant professor at the community college in Glen Ellyn.
“For longevity in the industry, however, we understand that students need a bachelor’s degree,” Vlach adds. “Partnering with NIU allows us to provide a seamless path for students to obtain that four-year degree. We seek partnerships with four-year programs that have similar curricular and student success goals. NIU’s programming and curriculum link extremely well with ours.”
Gail Tait, an associate professor at COD, calls NIU “a popular, realistic choice for our students.”
“I would say the majority of students want a quality, cost-effective education, and the chance to align with a respected four-year institution is an added incentive,” Tait says. “They want to take courses here at COD and know that they’re going to count at the next school, saving them time and money.”
Discussions began last fall when NIU College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper and David Walker, associate dean for Academic Affairs, were collaborating with COD administrators on the 2+2 for Elementary Education and continuing to build a strong relationship.
“An interesting conversation came out of our time with our partners there in that there appears to be a real demand from students at COD for programs like Kinesiology and Sport Management,” Walker says. “We started to look at our data for KNPE, and it became clear that COD is a prominent feeder for KNPE – and indicated to us that this was a great opportunity.”
Transfer enrollment is on the rise in the College of Education, which this fall welcomed its largest transfer class in the last five years.
Part of that comes thanks to the dozen 2+2 agreements the college has signed since 2016, Walker adds, counting the new “triple-threat” with nearby neighbor COD as Nos. 10, 11 and 12.
“We’re really happy, and we’re seeing this pay off with larger enrollments in terms of new transfers, which I think is very healthy for students, for diversity, for student-type and for programs,” he says, “and the fact that a lot of these students obviously can still live at home, come to NIU and pursue their degrees.”
Quality is assured.
KNPE’s programs are taught by nationally and internationally renowned faculty and are accredited by, or are a member of, the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Education Recognition Program and the American Kinesiology Association.
The college is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to offer teacher-education programs that are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
Beyond that external validation, however, COD students are aware of the NIU College of Education’s unparalleled hands-on learning programs such as Educate and Engage.
“The unique part of our relationship with COD is that a lot of those students interact with our NIU students in one way or another, whether that’s through a volunteer opportunity, or because our students are doing their internships out there or student-teaching in that area,” Calderala says.
“They see the experiences students are able to take advantage of here, particularly the co-curricular,” he adds, “and I would say that even our student organizations have become more outward-facing and not just NIU-facing.”
No matter what reasons DuPage students find for transferring to NIU as part of the 2+2, Vlach and Tait are excited to see the program blossom.
“It’s all about student success,” Vlach says.
“The transfer process can be challenging, and these agreements simplify and streamline the transfer process. From the very beginning, students can feel confident that their educational journey is headed in the right direction,” she adds. “Providing a seamless path for a student to earn a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution is the ultimate goal – pretty remarkable in my opinion.”