College Articles

Finishing in Four Years

By Alicia Wanek & Jennifer Cannatti

Earning a college degree in four years can seem like quite the magic trick for many students.  Whether it be financial difficulties, work schedules, or heavy semester course loads, many obstacles often stand in the way of accomplishing the goal of finishing school and entering the work force after just four years in college.  An innovative process called reverse transfer is the solution for many. Students are awarded an associate degree after combining course credits they earned at both two-year and four-year institutions. Texas is one of seven states required to offer reverse transfer, and many students are taking advantage of the opportunity at Richland College.  Students may want to consider a reverse transfer to gain their associate degree or maximize their time at home for the summer by enrolling in courses that will apply to their four-year degree when they get back to school.

For example, if university students attend the Maymester and summer sessions at Richland, they can quickly complete up to five classes at a significantly reduced cost compared to a four-year university.  In addition to the savings, Kim Herman, Transfer Center Coordinator at Richland College, said students can also benefit from smaller class sizes and more individualized attention.  Students can focus on one or two subjects at a time, which Herman said can be helpful for more challenging classes such as math or science.  The classes in the abbreviated sessions are, however, still an investment in time and energy. “They are typically four times as fast!  Instead of a course occurring over 16 weeks, it is taught in four- to five-week terms, so that typically means more time in the classroom each week and more homework time,” Herman said.

The Dean of Technology Enhanced Learning at Richland College, Susan Long, agrees.  She teaches Art Appreciation and has taught many university students earning core credit at the community college. “A flex-term class should be the same amount of work as a full 16-week class, so students can expect to spend a lot of time fulfilling the requirements.  Students need to be able to work on the class daily,” Long said.

Students need to work with the academic advisors at their university to guarantee that course credits will transfer and apply to their degree plans.  In turn, students can send their university transcripts to Richland College to apply courses toward a degree.  Reverse transfer helps these students earn a degree by supporting partnerships between community colleges and universities.  The National Student Clearinghouse started the Reverse Transfer Project (RTP) in Texas and two other states to help streamline the complex process of data transfer between two-year and four-year institutions of higher learning.  This is especially helpful for students who have two or more years of course credit in postsecondary education but have not earned a degree or certificate.  With reverse transfer, if students transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution before earning an associate degree, they can retroactively earn the associate degree once they reach the required number of credits.

While summer may be a great time to rest from a busy school year, students who take a few classes can more quickly reach their goal of earning a degree.  With reverse transfer, every course credit earned can be a step toward attaining a degree, which is a foot in the door toward getting hired for a job that requires a qualified, college-educated employee.

Editor’s Note: For more information, visit www.richlandcollege.edu.

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