Sunday, October 19, 2014
Yes, by all means, let’s knock down arbitrary barriers to successful student transfer. We just need to be willing to acknowledge barriers beyond what the meeting initially had in mind.
The interactive matrix, FAQ, and historical information can be accessed here: http://acts.adhe.edu
The system requires a lot of work for colleges. Determining acceptable transfer opportunities and maintaining the system is hard, but definitely worth it for student advising and success.
My state has been trying to maintain some semblence of order in the pre-reqs for each major (across the state colleges and universities) for a long time, but the universities want to each go their own way if they can. Where it affects them now is if they are held responsible for time-to-degree for transfer students who get delayed by unnecessarily diverse requirements.
It is much better in the sciences and engineering, where the non-major pre-reqs have been the same across the nation (not just within a state) for many decades. Only elite schools tend to go their own way, like the ones where two years each of AP calculus and physics is a minimum requirement for new freshmen.
Students in engineering should be loading up with calculus, physics, computer programming and other freshman and sophomore technical courses at community college, and
saving the general ed to lighten the load in their junior and senior years.
Of course, as DD notes, the 4-years can't agree on what that means, so each list is festooned with asterisks and provisos (e.g. "WSU requires Java programming, while UW requires C+", or, "This course is accepted by all WA State universities, EXCEPT UW").
While students typically complete all their Gen Ed requirements at a Community College, sometimes it benefits students to complete an, 'upside down' degree, where most of the CC courses are in the major discipline, leaving the Gen Ed classes to the transfer university.
Also, as DD notes, there are some courses that we are just never going to offer, such as 'Modern Physics', a Sophomore-level course at most universities, but we would only garner single-digit enrollment if we offered it.
The only ones that do well fulfill internal requirements (intro to comparative and intro to IR fulfill a "global perspectives" requirement in our college core) or are recommended/required in a non-transfer certificate or degree (state & local and intro to public administration are pushed for students in our social work and public service programs). But our intro to political science and domestic issues (=policy) classes don't draw flies when offered, so we no longer bother.
Unfortunately, a combination of articulation agreements and state law and accreditation mandates that we require a gen-ed core for the AA degree they need to transfer. Students can transfer early, but then the articulation is out the window and they waste as many (or more) credits meeting whatever combo of gen-ed classes that university requires of its freshmen. All we can do is advise our students to avoid taking any "side" classes required for their major (even if offered at our CC) to save some soft stuff for after transfer for the reason you mention.
However, this is rarely a problem. Everyone has about 2.5 years of major classes in engineering. Some just get into them earlier. With the exception of HS dual enrolled students, most engineering majors starting at a CC are way behind in math. They would not get to engineering classes by the middle of their sophomore year no matter where they started.
What you describe also happens to HS students who take a ton of AP classes that end up being largely irrelevant to the student's desired major if the HS advising process is flawed. (I saw one wannabe engineer with 21 credits in a variety of humanities classes, but none in math or science. It bordered on counseling malpractice.) And many take the regular AP physics sequence that does not count for engineering. They are well prepared, but they still have to take a year of physics.
In my neighborhood, Modern Physics is taken by sophomores majoring in physics, but is defined to be an upper division class so it can count towards a major or a minor. As such, it cannot be taught at a CC, regardless of the qualifications of the faculty. (All of our physics faculty have a PhD.)
Personally, I don't see that class as a problem because a student should be out of here by the time they are ready to take that class. Ditto for classes like linear algebra that are also taken by sophomores but classified as upper division courses.
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