Half a million dollars grant to make transfering credits more transparent

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Texas OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives

Many college students use transferable and dual credits as part of their college education, but because of a lack of communication, those credits often go unused. The Greater Texas Foundation gave UT $500,000 last week to change that.

The grant will fund an online system where students can view the credits they need for their degree. The tool, MapMyPath, is estimated to be ready by Spring 2019.

Harrison Keller, deputy to the president for strategy and policy, said the University is trying to help future UT students know what transfer credits they need. Every year, nearly 160,000 students take at least one dual credit course while in high school, and more than 70 percent of UT students have some community college or dual credit they apply toward their degree program, Keller said. This does not include Advanced Placement credit.

“We want to create a new kind of tool that would be groundbreaking for the state of Texas but also for the nation, so that students would be able to understand the portability of the credit they are learning,” Keller said.

Keller said the foundation plays an important leadership role in the state in increasing educational access for students.

Ten other Texas universities and community colleges will collaborate with UT to design the tool.

“It would be an online tool that would easily let you compare the recommended course sequences across multiple institutions,” Keller said. “The main motivation for this is in the past 15 years we’ve seen this dramatic growth in the number of students who are taking college-level courses while they are in high school.”

Keller said not all of the credits students earn go toward their college degree because there is currently no simple way for them to find out if the course is accepted or needed for their degree.

“The state invests millions of dollars in these courses, and unfortunately, a lot of these courses don’t end up applying to students’ degree program,” Keller said. “It might not save students any time or money like (it is) supposed to.”

Public health junior Emily Wong took multiple dual credit courses in high school that helped her in college, but she said her statistics class did not transfer.

“While it did prepare me for my college class, I wish I would have known before because I spent a lot of extra time and money in high school to work for a credit I can’t even use now,” Wong said.

Parker Lambrecht, radio-television-film freshman, said she took multiple college classes in high school and is very thankful all of her credits transfered.

“I do feel lucky that I was able to use all of my credits,” Lambrecht said. “It was really nice that those transferred because a lot of the time you just don’t know beforehand.”

Keller said when he was in high school, it was not usual for students to take dual credit courses. He said now there is a need to guide students in the right direction when it comes to transferable credit.

“What we want to do is provide students information so they are not left to wander but (to) explore the courses they are interested (in),” Keller said.