Advisers' book aids student transfers Community college offers comprehensive resource on schools

February 26, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

It can take a degree of frustration to negotiate a transfer from one college to another, but advisers at Carroll Community College have produced a new book to guide students through it smoothly. After all, transferring is as natural a conclusion as graduating for most students at Carroll and other community college. Unless they plan early, students could find that the coursesthey spent their time and money on in community college won't count toward their degrees at their second schools.

Enrollments at Maryland community colleges are growing with students who choose them as a less expensive alternative for their first two years of higher education, before moving to a four-year institution to complete their degrees.

"We're the bread and butter now," said Kristine DeWitt, director of counseling and career development at Carroll.

"They [four-year schools] want our students, and we want our students to go and to succeed," Ms. DeWitt said.

In 1995, community college students made up 50 percent of total undergraduate enrollment in Maryland. The rest were split between 39 percent at public four-year schools and 11 percent in private schools.

Ms. DeWitt said nearly all the entering first-year, full-time students say they intend to go on to a four-year school. Most of the community colleges in the area have devoted at least a few pages in their catalogs to the transfer process, and have advisers and computer software to make it easier.

But Ms. DeWitt and others in the student affairs office have produced a book that is unusually comprehensive. It lists majors and tuition costs for 30 colleges and universities, from Towson State University, where most Carroll students continue, to Ner Israel Rabbinical College.

Each school, each major, has a different set of requirements, Ms. DeWitt said. But all Maryland public institutions and many private ones have agreed to accept general education course credits from the community colleges, since the Maryland Higher Education Commission streamlined regulations a few years ago.

Ms. DeWitt advises students to start with general education courses, which could take up the whole first year. That gives students time to narrow their focus to a particular school and major.

Students then take advantage of a computer network called "ARTSYS," for articulation system, usually located in the transfer offices at all Maryland colleges and universities. It provides an updated list of each school's majors, and for each major, the courses the student will have to take. The software also indicates what courses must be taken at the four-year school.

Angie Payne, 19, of Sykesville found that a few courses she took at Carroll probably won't count toward the special education degree she hopes to earn at one of three universities she is considering.

"A lot of the colleges want you to take your education courses there," said the second-year student. She may have to repeat introduction to education and psychology in education at her new school, if she wants credit for them.

Ms. Payne said the advice she would give students is that it is never too early to start planning for the transfer.

"I'd definitely start earlier," she said. "Start looking for your school. You want to know what classes will transfer there."

Students can get printouts from their academic advisers and refer to them as they plan their course load. The new guidebook also has a grid to make it easier for students to fill in and keep track of the courses they need to take.

Between the new guidebook, ARTSYS and the staff in the student affairs building, first-year Carroll student Tyeast Collins, 18, is confident about the mechanics of transferring, she said.

That is one less thing for the Sykesville student to worry about, because she's anxious enough about the other aspects of a transition to a new school outside Carroll County. She is leaning toward the University of Maryland College Park and Morgan State University.

"I'm really nervous about transferring," she said. "There, I won't know anybody."

Four-year schools are joining community colleges to make the transfers smoother, said Louise Shulack, Towson State's assistant director of admissions.

She and representatives from about 40 colleges in Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states came to Carroll's transfer advisement day Thursday, setting up tables in the "great hall" to answer questions of students and their parents.

"[Community colleges are] a vital link for us," Ms. Shulack said.

About 60 percent of Towson State students have transferred there from another school, she said.

Ms. Shulack said technology, specifically ARTSYS, has made it easier for colleges to stay current with each other, and advisers work diligently to urge students to use the information.

"It's very few students I see now who aren't familiar with the resources," Ms. Shulack said.

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