Transfer Credit - Credit Transferring Process

Credit Transferring Process

The process of transferring credits can be divided into four main parts: what transpires prior to a college transfer, what transpires during college transfer, what transpires after college transfer and what proactive efforts are managed to help define academic pathways and agreements between institutions to streamline college transfer.

Prior to college transfer, a student may engage and receive different levels of advising and counseling from an institution they attend. The advising process has an impact on the course enrollment decisions a student makes, which often leads to expectations that course work will transfer or not, depending upon the acknowledged student aspirations and goals. Often, a student changes goals and aspirations as a result of their course exposure.

During college transfer, a student typically applies to a college or university as a prospective student. Different than traditional applicants, a transfer student's academic history is evaluated. This involves enrollment, transfer professionals and the faculty, and requires an in-depth analysis of every course taken by a student at another college or university and/or also including the evaluation of prior life experiences. A college transfer student applying to another college or university, must request academic transcripts from each institution they attended. Each potential receiving institution must wait until they receive the academic transcripts, assemble them by student and match them to the application.

The transcript and course evaluation process can be divided into three distinct stages which result in judgments independent of the student. First, an assessment of the quality of the course must be made. Second, the course must be evaluated on the basis of its comparability to courses at the receiving institution. Finally, the coursework for which credit is granted must be determined to be applicable to the program of study for which the student has applied.

For purposes of ensuring student success in handling the level of difficulty in the targeted academic program and the course work required of it, and protecting the integrity of academic credentials, all three judgments must be made for credit to be granted for the transfer student and to avoid having the student take the required courses as documented. Courses of poor quality, courses for which the receiving institution has no general counterpart, and courses that simply do not apply to the program of study being sought should not, and are not, typically counted toward degree requirements. This standard benefits students by ensuring that they are not inappropriately placed in programs of study and courses for which they are ill prepared.

Concrete determinations with regard to the three-part analysis described above can range in difficulty. Transfer professionals at institutions with significant transfers-in often have a course-by-course understanding of academic offerings of their sending institutions. This course-level understanding is typically arrived at through intensive reviews of course syllabi, textbooks and supplemental materials used in courses, knowledge of faculty and their qualifications at sending institutions, and lengthy consultations with departmental faculty at the receiving institution in connection with each course. Expensive and labor-intensive as sounds, this process represents the ideal method of course credit evaluation and decisions.

Once a particular course from a specific institution has been evaluated, if it is encountered again on a different student’s transcript, the same course credit decision can be applied until the course content changes. At many institutions, evaluations are captured in course equivalency tables or databases that are available to evaluators as a means of expediting the process.

At most institutions, however, the process is entirely manual, and is driven by the experience and knowledge of expert evaluators. This further complicates how a student can be advised at sending institutions, since much of the knowledge on how course work will count, is not readily available to the advisers or students at sending institutions. Usually in the movement from one institution to another, students are evaluated and receive all, partial or no transfer credit for completed courses already taken. The evaluation usually is preliminary prior to enrollment and won't be official until after the student is enrolled and the full degree audit report or checklist is completed and delivered to the student. As a result of the time lapse, students often learn they need to take additional course work or re-take course work that was not sufficient to meet the degree requirements for their selected program of study.

Institutions generally require a minimum satisfactory grade in each course taken. Students should check course equivalency maps and transfer guides to validate how courses in one institution will relate to the potential receiver institution. Even though prior courses may be comparable, it does not mean the receiving institution will count the course credit toward degree completion. Prior courses taken could either be accepted as electives, accepted as filling a degree requirement or not accepted at all.

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