What is the student's role in the transfer process?

Publications by NACAC, College Board, the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, and other transfer-focused organizations have dissected and discussed the role of institutions, of advisors, and of partnerships in ensuring transfer student success, but there hasn’t been much discussion in the role or responsibilities of students.

“Institutions have to clearly indicate the responsibilities of students, “ says Seth Kamen, director of transfer and prior learning design at Montgomery College, “and they have to hold students accountable for those actions.”

Working with students to assume responsibility

When AACRAO released A Guide to Best Practices: Transfer and Prior Learning Credit, it included a first – it identified multiple responsibilities that students should assume in the transfer credit process, which should be clearly included in a transfer credit policy. These included:

  • Sending Transcripts as requested,
  • providing course descriptions or syllabi as needed to evaluate transfer credit,
  • completing required paperwork on time and by indicated deadlines,
  • listing all previous attendance and coursework on the application,
  • adhering to rules and regulations,
  • meeting graduation requirements, and
  • understanding that each institution handles articulation and transfer differently.  

Each of these puts the responsibility for providing accurate and comprehensive transfer evaluations and graduation audits on the student.

In order for the student to be responsible, they need to know what is expected of them.

Depending on where they are transferring from, or their life experience, they may not be familiar with all the nuances of applying to transfer. For the traditional-aged transfer student, the admission process to the community college they first attended is probably very different then the four-year institution they want to transfer to. For international students, the process of TOEFEL exams and international credit evaluations can be confusing and complicated.  For adult students, a myriad of issues can prevent them from getting all their transcripts, or even thinking that the classes they took twenty years ago are still applicable. Make sure that websites, communications, admission counselors and advisors, and feeder institutions are familiar with an institutions expectations, requirements and the resources available to help students.

Remember, however, that a student can’t be responsible for something that is out of their control.

If they took a course at an institution that has since closed, or that the course is so old that a syllabus isn’t available, or they are in the armed services and can’t access syllabi or transcripts because of their work commitments or location, then an institution should be flexible and accommodating, without making too many exceptions as to dilute the policy and procedure.

Accountability is a necessity to ensure the academic integrity and, in some cases, accreditation of the institution. In addition to identifying what is expected and needed, also articulate what happens if incorrect or incomplete information is provided. For example, not submitting a final transcript may result in an enrollment hold on a future term, or not listing all coursework completed may affect financial aid eligibility. The punishment should be just as clear- rescinding an offer of admission, denying scholarship funds, or the like.

Join the discussion "Guide to Best Practices: Transfer and Prior Learning Credit" at this year's AACRAO Annual Meeting, March 25-28 in Orlando. The session will be held Monday morning at 10:30. Register now.