Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would ensure that community college students can take their credits with them no matter which public university they choose.
The bill comes after the release of a study last year that showed the University of Connecticut (UConn) was rejecting more than 20 percent of the transfer credits from students coming into the school from the community college system.
“Student debt is staggering, and if there is something we can do to help students save money and not waste time, this should be a win-win,” said state Rep. Christie Carpino, the Cromwell Republican who authored the bill.
A pathways approach
The legislation would require officials from UConn and the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education to sit down together and develop easy-to-use uniform “pathways” that would allow students to enroll in courses guaranteed to transfer among all of the state’s public schools.
But the schools say they have already addressed the problem.
UConn has a Guaranteed Admissions Program, which provides admission as a junior to any state community college students who maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and an associate degree in an approved academic program.
The school provides students with detailed information about which credits will transfer on a searchable website, so they are aware of which courses to take, said Stephanie Reitz, the university spokeswoman.
“We’ve been working with the Board of Regents to spread the word about the importance of using such resources, and the need for community college academic counselors to work closely with students to help them pick courses in which credits will transfer,” she said. “The partnerships between those counselors and students are critical, especially early in their college careers.”
A step-by-step guide
The Board of Regents, which oversees the four regional state universities and the community college system, this year launched a program called TAP (Transfer and Articulation Program), which allows students to take their first 60-63 credit hours at one of the 12 state community colleges and then transfer those credits into one of 20 separate concentrations at one of the four-year schools.
Its website gives students a step-by-step guide as to which courses they need to take. More than 430 students enrolled in the program during its first semester this fall.
Ken Klucznik, an English professor at Manchester Community College who co-developed the TAP program, said the vast majority of community college students will be transferring to the state university system, not UConn.
He said it took five years to develop the pathways between the 12 community colleges and the state university system. They negotiated such things as what should be taught in each of the prerequisite classes, and which courses should only be taught at the four-year schools.
He said he doesn’t think it would be wise to add UConn, which would have its own ideas about curriculum and rigor.
“It could disrupt all of the work that’s been done so far, and we would practically be starting over,” he said.
But Carpino argued the pathways need to be universal, so students like Hernandez have more options.
“It set me back almost a semester,” said Hernandez, who is now on track get her business degree from CCSU this spring.
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