Transfer credit policy should help students graduate

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    After looking at TCU’s summer-school policy, a task force decided to amend the credit transfer policy, according to a Sept. 28 Skiff article. The new policy allows students to transfer only 12 hours from a community college before they earn 54 hours, or the equivalent of junior status, at TCU. I feel like a hypocrite saying it, and I know plenty of people disagree, but this amendment can only further TCU’s reputation as a prestigious private university, and I believe this was the task force’s intention.

    As mentioned in the article, several peer schools have adopted similar policies – though in the case of SMU, I hope we never decide to eliminate transferable community college credits altogether. These policies serve a simple purpose – to make sure your diploma from TCU is a true reflection of the level of your education.

    The 12 transfer hours are the equivalent of an entire semester, or four three-hour classes. That’s a significant amount. I imagine many students wouldn’t take full advantage of those transfer credits anyway. Twelve hours is a decent balance between making sure we receive an education worthy of a TCU diploma and allowing us the convenience of community colleges.

    Most students will acknowledge that part of the appeal of a community college is that it’s easy. Not to negate the value of community colleges – I’ve taken plenty of local Tarrant County College courses myself – but most community college professors don’t have the same expectations of their students as university professors do. Professors’ expectations are reflected in the difficulty, or occasional lack thereof, of the work in the class.

    In addition, students only need to pass the classes for credit, and it shows up on their transcripts without affecting their GPAs. For credit without much stress, community college courses are the way to go.

    At the same time, I also think TCU needs to take steps to make sure this measure doesn’t hinder students’ academic opportunities.

    Students don’t take classes at colleges other than TCU solely because they’re easier. There’s a variety of other reasons, and I think the university needs to address these if it expects students to support this amendment.

    Most students take classes at community colleges during the summer to avoid taking too many hours during the regular academic year. It’s a nice way to balance a schedule and guarantee graduating on time. One of the most appealing benefits of these colleges is they’re much cheaper than TCU. For students who don’t live in the Metroplex, add room and board expenses, and the thought of a less challenging class seems justifiable.

    Students need to have an incentive to take summer school at TCU. Making more summer-school scholarships that also cover living expenses, as well as making students more aware of them, would draw more students into the program.

    Another way to encourage students to take more hours at TCU is to make it easier to take more classes during the regular semester. Students must receive permission and wait until classes have started to sign up for more than 17 hours. Since most basic classes are three hours of credit, that usually leaves the student with an option of taking 15 hours or waiting until the beginning of the semester to add another class. Since students are paying a flat rate for 12 to 18 hours of credit, the university should allow them to take full advantage of those hours without question.

    If students feel they can handle the workload, especially when some classes are only eight weeks, they should be allowed to – especially if it lets them double major or finish their degrees early. If this were the case, more students wouldn’t need to take hours over the summer and could earn all of their credit at TCU.

    This amendment can’t work without a little help. If the university wants to limit students in one area, it should allow students more opportunities in another.

    Valerie Cooper is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Azel. Her column appears every Wednesday.