Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Regents work to give students proper credit

February 15, 2012

Meg Fowler said finding out how her class credits transfer from Johnson County Community College isn’t easy.

The Kansas Board of Regents has been leading an effort among Kansas’ 19 community colleges and six state universities to come up with a set of courses that will transfer as general education credit to any other state school.

“That would be awesome,” Fowler said.

The student from Bonner Springs has about 25 credit hours now, and she said it takes a visit to the counselor’s office each semester to ensure she’s still on track.

Because Fowler knows what she wants to do — occupational therapy — and where she wants to transfer when she’s done at JCCC — Kansas University — she’s able to make better decisions.

A counselor can point her to courses that will help her at KU, specifically, and ones that for certain will transfer.

But Jeff Anderson, a counselor at JCCC, knows it’s a little more difficult to help the majority of students who are still undecided.

He shows them a white piece of paper that helps get them on the path toward an associate’s degree. He can point out some classes that he knows will likely transfer better as a general education requirement, encouraging students to maybe consider biology with a lab, say, over a zoology course. But there are no guarantees.

“I’m just glad we’re talking about this,” Anderson said. “I’ve been here 23 years, and this issue has been off the radar screen for forever, it seems like.”

This isn’t exactly groundbreaking territory nationally, said Sara Rosen, KU’s senior vice provost for academic affairs.

“We’re not the first to do this,” she said.

Rosen is serving on a task force for the Board of Regents that’s looking at this issue.

The task force has identified 55 hours worth of courses that would transfer freely among the colleges and universities and will next focus on the outcomes associated with each course to ensure the quality of education.

Rosen said transfer students can encounter a wide variety of hurdles.

“When a student transfers, what we’re finding is that they have a tendency not to just bring in credit from one institution but from two or three or four,” she said.

Matt Melvin, KU’s associate vice provost for recruitment and enrollment, called that a student who’s “swirling.”

The push from the regents has helped get the issue in focus for four-year schools, but places like KU are already looking to attract more transfer students as high school enrollments dip, creating a smaller pool of freshmen from which to draw.

“Absolutely,” KU is taking a closer look at how to attract more transfer students, Melvin said, especially as community colleges churn out more and more students looking to obtain a four-year degree.

“Economically, students and their parents are having an increasingly difficult time paying for college,” Melvin said.

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