HIGHER EDUCATION Ohio plan would help students transfer credit

The proposal would help prevent students who attend more than one college from losing credits.
DAYTON (AP) -- When Nicholas Brown transferred to Ohio State University as a sophomore, the school gave him credit for only one of two English classes and two of three chemistry courses he took at Wright State University.
Brown is among transfer students who have had to repeat courses, pay extra tuition and even delay graduation because classes they took at one college don't match those at another in their degree of study.
The state's 37 public colleges and universities are working on a new system designed to make many courses more consistent and guarantee they can be transferred and count toward a degree.
"It recognizes that the thing that quacks like a duck at one school should be recognized as a duck at the other school," said Bob Fee, senior assistant dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
Extra semesters
Brown, 24, of Kettering, needed an extra quarter to get his business degree because he had to make up classes.
"That's $2,000 more I spent," Brown said. "I also graduated in the summer. I didn't get to graduate with my spring class."
In the 2002-2003 school year, 27 percent of the students who graduated from a four-year public university in Ohio with a bachelor's degree had transferred at least 30 hours from another school. A majority of the students were from two-year colleges.
On average, it took transfer students from two-year colleges about 146 semester hours to get their bachelor's degrees, compared to 140 hours for students who attended only one four-year college.
Jennifer Morrow, 40, attended colleges in Ohio, Kentucky and Texas off and on before enrolling at Wright State in Dayton.
Many classes she took elsewhere don't count toward her bachelor's degree in education at Wright State.
"I was kind of blown away," she said. "I don't like that I'm having to take some stuff over again. It's just frustrating."
After hearing complaints from students, the Legislature in 2003 ordered the state's public colleges and universities to improve the transfer system. The plan must be finalized by April and goes into effect in 2006.
Its objective is to provide consistency in general education courses that students must take early in college before upper-level classes in their majors.
In some cases, schools have to rewrite their curriculum to comply with the plan. Some schools simply have to agree that their courses are consistent in content and will be transferable.
Other state plans
At least 35 states have programs in which general education courses transfer from college to college as a package, according to Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Schneider said such programs are good for students as long as the transferable courses are substantive.
"The downside is you may be creating a system of interchangeable courses without giving attention to the educational goals those courses should address," she said. "It can generate cynicism in students. They begin to think of their degree as just a collection of credits -- a checkoff list."
Under Ohio's plan, a course that offers at least 70 percent of what educators believe students should know after taking a course can be transferred and count toward the degree. The transfer plan includes hundreds of courses in 44 degree programs.
"It's not written to the lowest common denominator," said Nick Wilson, who is directing the project for the Ohio Board of Regents. "This is not a dumbing down of curriculum."