Faculty: Transfer credits compromise degree

Forty-three percent of 5,610 undergraduate TCU students transferred credits from fall 2002 to spring 2005, most of which were from community colleges, and 68 percent were from juniors and seniors, said the dean of AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.After a task force evaluated TCU’s summer school policy, it decided to amend the transfer policy so 12 hours can be transferred in from a community college before a student reaches 54 hours at TCU, said Mary Volcansek, dean of AddRan College.

The task force, which was appointed in August 2005 by Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, looked at what courses were offered during the summer and where and how many transfer credits were taken. It also looked at other summer schools at about 15 comparable universities such as Southern Methodist and Vanderbilt universities before deciding to change TCU’s policies, Volcansek said.

Donovan said TCU is becoming a more prestigious university, and practices should reflect that.

At SMU, no community college courses are accepted as transfer credits after a student has enrolled, said a representative from SMU Enrollment Services. A student may take a course at another four-year college after approval from his or her adviser and the department in which the transfer class will fall under. However, a student may not transfer more than 15 hours, said the representative.

Baylor University allows students to transfer a maximum of 15 hours from a community college with a “C” grade or higher, according to Baylor’s Web site. A student may not take upper-level courses at a community college. Degree credit will not be accepted for courses taken at other colleges or universities while enrolled at Baylor.

Leah Barnett, senior music major who transferred credits from Tarrant County College and the University of Texas at Arlington, said she would take summer classes at TCU if there was no way around it.

“As long as it’s allowed, most people take classes off-campus because it saves money and is faster,” Barnett said.

Volcansek said summer school as it is makes a huge amount of money. The new policy was created to make summer school more beneficial for students and the faculty.

William Slater, dean of the College of Communications, said money was not a concern of the University Council when the policy was adopted.

“We didn’t really talk about budget,” Slater said. “I think the bottom line is either you’re a TCU student, or you’re a student someplace else. If you’re going to be a TCU student, you take TCU courses. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Michael Scott, director of Scholarships and Student Financial Aid, said students can receive financial aid for summer classes.

“If you take 15 credits each of your eight long semesters, you graduate on time,” Volcansek said.

If a student takes 15 hours every semester and adds four hours throughout four years through lab classes and one-hour components, he or she shouldn’t need summer school, Volcansek said.

Stella South, senior political science major, said it is hard for a double-major to graduate on time.

“Just because you have 54 hours doesn’t mean you haven’t taken UCRs,” South said.

Patrick Miller, registrar and director of enrollment management, said he agreed it was not budget-motivated; it was an academic question.

Carrie Leverenz, associate professor of English and director of composition, said the new policy is the same policy she has always known.

“The rationale behind that is that you should be getting a TCU degree,” Leverenz said. “It is not a TCU degree if you’re taking classes at other places.”

Lee Daniel, professor of Spanish, said the Spanish department has had a similar policy for a long time. He said he has always been skeptical of transfer classes because the quality is not always on the level as a TCU course.