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Volume 71, Issue 149, Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Program to create a new path to UH

Plan eases the way for junior college transfer students

by Mohammed Olokode

Transfer students will have an easier transition to the UH system thanks to a new plan set to debut this fall.

The UHS and Houston-area community colleges have come together to create a joint admissions program that will allow transfer students a guaranteed admission.

Set to begin fall of 2006, the program promises general admission to any community college student who signs a joint admissions contract during his or her first year and completes and receives an associate's degree in good standing. 

Marshall Schott, executive director of educational technology and university outreach, was part of the team coordinating the effort with academic officials from area community colleges. 

Schott said a driving force behind the transfer program was new education standards set by the state in an effort to curtail declining college numbers.

"We all face some real problems in the Gulf Coast region related to college participation and success, in terms of meeting some of the guidelines created by the state," Schott said.

Another factor contributing to the establishment of the program was community and junior colleges asking the University for assistance.

"The community colleges kept telling (UH) that they needed help with increasing the number of students finishing associate's degrees. This program encourages students to finish," Schott said.

The solution was a program that will save students money by completing courses at a community college. Incoming students will not have to fill out an admissions application or pay an application fee. Other perks include discounts to athletic events, a unique college ID and library privileges.

"By establishing this joint admissions program, the Houston-area community colleges and the UH System are providing students in our region a clear and reliable academic pathway," Donald J. Foss, UHS' senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a release. 

"This should provide a tremendous inducement for community college students to complete their academic associate's degrees and continue their upper level education. This is an important part of our shared commitment to increase participation in higher education in our region and to improve student persistence and academic success."

The agreement was official on May 16 when President Jay Gogue and community college presidents came together to review and sign it. 

Jose L. Cantu, associate director of admissions, also said it is beneficial for them not just to be prepared, but also to use the facilities and understanding how a university works.

"The purpose of the joint admissions is a partnership done with our community colleges, in the Gulf area first," Cantu said. "We wanted to establish this so we can have some kind of two-plus-two plan and where students can go the community college, get prepared there and then have a smooth transition and finish off at the university level."

When students sign their joint admissions contracts, the community college will send the names of the students to the UH campus where they are applying and they will be entered in the system. The admissions departments will make sure that they meet the requirements. 

As for admissions to the individual college, students will have to meet requirements and fill out an application for that specific major. 

The admissions department will have an application on file for the semester they enter.

"Both UH and the community colleges will be sure to communicate the names of students involved in the (program)," Cantu said. "Part of UH's communication will be to make sure that students have all documents needed to transfer, which includes the application." 

For students who don't understand the process, there will be UH advisers going out to the community colleges and explaining the transition. 

Admissions directors from the community colleges also expressed opinions about the new program. Albert Barnes, Wharton County Junior College dean of admissions and registration, said he is pleased and that it is a great opportunity.

"The student benefits because (he or she) is assured of a smooth transition from WCJC to UH. WCJC benefits because students can feel comfortable staying with us until they have completed the sophomore year," Barnes said. "UH benefits because we are preparing students who are already known to UH who will be well prepared for their junior year. It is a win-win-win situation."

Stephanie Stockstill, director of admissions at Alvin Community College, also praised the joint admissions program.

"I think this joint agreement and the benefits will sell itself," Stockstill said. "It's a winning situation for all three parties: the student, the community college, and the University of Houston system."

With additional reporting by Johnny Peña

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