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There is a continuous struggle faced by many Kentucky Community and Technical College students. These students take lower-division level transfer classes taught by highly qualified faculty who have an expertise in teaching and learning, only to discover later that that the degree requirements have changed at the other institution.
Determining which community college classes will transfer to a 4-year university shouldn’t be so difficult for students. There is a revolutionary transfer bill (House Bill 160) being considered right now in the Kentucky legislature that would fix many of the problems students are experiencing.
Recently, a West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) student was ready to transfer his community college credits to a state university, but he ran into roadblocks.
Despite his years of work at WKCTC and advising by both institutions, many of the classes he had been told would transfer to a 4-year university didn’t count toward the engineering degree he’d set his heart on achieving.
This young man, one of three sons of Gayna Felts, a busy mom and radiography student at WKCTC, was incredibly disappointed that some of his hard work – not to mention money – had gone toward coursework that wouldn’t help him reach his goal.
He ended up attending his chosen 4-year institution but was embarrassed to be in classes with freshmen students when he had already worked so hard to get an associate’s degree. He was terribly discouraged from his disheartening experience.
Gayna plans to use this hard-learned lesson to help her younger sons avoid similar issues when they begin college. But many of KCTCS’ students lack the family support to get such help.
Often, students at KCTCS are the first in their families to attend college, and they have no one to guide them through the unnecessarily complicated maze of higher education.
HB160 will help provide students with a clear-cut understanding of which courses will apply toward a four-year degree.
In its current form, the bill creates a more clearly defined path to a bachelor’s degree for those students who plan to transfer and consistency among core courses that students need in order to succeed.
HB160 also includes stipulations for maintaining the agreement once passed into law, requiring advance notice to KCTCS and the Council on Postsecondary Education when course changes are proposed that would have an adverse effect on transfer.
Community and technical colleges are an excellent value for students, particularly during these difficult economic times, because they provide an affordable and convenient pathway for students to pursue a baccalaureate degree.
Additionally, research shows that KCTCS transfer students do better than students who start at 4-year institutions.
At KCTCS, our students represent more than half of the undergraduate students in all of Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions combined.
And more and more are deciding to begin their higher education journey at one of our 16 colleges. In fact, spring enrollment is up a record 18 percent across the system.
It is obvious we are providing Kentucky what it needs right now and it is critical we help these students continue along the path to success with a 4-year degree.
Kentucky’s future economic health depends upon higher education because some form of postsecondary credential is needed for the high wage, high demand jobs that are critical for our state to not only survive, but thrive in today’s global marketplace.
Kentucky has set an ambitious goal to double the number of baccalaureate degrees by 2020 to attract the businesses and industries that will put our state on a trajectory path towards economic prosperity.
However, if our state is going to reach this goal, it must significantly increase the number of transfer students from KCTCS to 4-year institutions.
Please join me and the more than 8,000 citizens who have signed the Kentuckians for Community and Technical Colleges petition in asking the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly to support HB160. It is a smart investment in our students, our workers and our state’s economy. Our state’s economic future depends on it.
Michael B. McCall is president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.