North Texas Daily

UNT develops degree plans for West Texas community college

UNT develops degree plans for West Texas community college

April 08
10:06 2014

Brittany Armstrong // Intern Writer

UNT is working closely with Amarillo College to make transferring credits easier for prospective students in what may be the first of many partnerships with community colleges.

Administrators at Amarillo College — located in the Texas Panhandle — contacted the transfer department at UNT to develop a plan to help their students transfer to UNT and still obtain their associates degrees. Part of state funding for community colleges relies on whether students successfully complete their associate’s degrees.

In doing so, course “maps” were developed for students, matching classes students can take at the community college level to courses at UNT. Although they are still in the planning phase, the idea is to give each student a paper copy of the course guide that will match their specific degree plan.

UNT currently has transfer guides that allow students to generally narrow down courses they can take, but the new map program will be major-specific.

Celia Williamson, provost for transfer articulation at UNT, said the goal is to prevent students from taking unnecessary classes.

“It’s pretty easy to develop a map that reaches nirvana,” Williamson said. “Nirvana is if a community college student could graduate from UNT with no more hours than a student that started at UNT.”

Williamson believes it will be achievable in most cases – if they can get the course information into student’s hands early on.

The trouble is, Williamson said, the advising ratios at community colleges are often dramatic: one advisor for every 1,000 to 3,000 students.

Amarillo College currently has six campuses and more than 10,000 students enrolled. Amarillo College Transfer Coordinator Sammie Artho said she is expecting about 30 students to use this new program when it launches next semester.

Artho said UNT has many programs that her students are interested in that the universities around Amarillo do not offer.

“UNT’s Hospitality and Tourism program is very highly regarded, as is merchandising. I also have a lot of students interested in journalism right now,” she said. “And lot of students really want to be in the metroplex area.”

Melissa Schneider, a graduate transfer assistant at UNT, works alongside Williamson to match community college courses to those offered at UNT.

Schneider said she thinks it is crucial that people know about the issues that community college students face, such as transferring with unnecessary courses and having to retake classes to fulfill degree requirements.

“It’s really important that a lot of people think about these issues, especially administrators and people who are designing the curriculum, by making sure that they have courses that will satisfy associate’s degrees,” she said.

Williamson said UNT would be working with other area community colleges as well, including Tarrant County, Dallas County, and Denton County Community Colleges.

Artho said she is excited for the future.

“We’re really looking forward to this partnership for our community and for our students,” Artho said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

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