Transfer students face credit hour dilemmas

Rhiannon Branch/The News

Story by Sabra Jackson, Staff writer 

A transfer student from Western Kentucky University is struggling to stay on track for graduation, after seven credit hours did not transfer to Murray State, making her a year behind her classmates.

Lauren Campbell, junior from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, transferred to Murray State as a sophomore, but her classification according to the university was a freshman.

“It put me almost a semester behind because of some other things like having to retake classes because of things not transferring right,” Campbell said.

Campbell is not the only student who has found herself in a tight spot with transfer credits, as this is a national problem for college students. The Government Accountability Office released a report that revealed 43 percent of college credits are lost when undergraduate students transfer institutions.

According to a U.S. World Report, over a third of college students will transfer throughout their college career, as some may move several times.

Maria Rosa, director of the Transfer Center, said a policy through SACS, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, states Murray State must accept credits from regionally accredited institutions.

Rosa said when students carry their credits over to Murray State, there is a process to see how their credits can be assigned to other courses such as general electives. Each course is compared to those of Murray State via the course description. If the course matches, the credits are given.

“The first time we are evaluating a course in anything that’s in the major specific areas, we are working with faculty in the departments to make that decision,” Rosa said. “We are using their expertise.”

Rosa said they also look at the syllabus and course sequencing to see how courses match-up. For example, if Murray State is teaching a sequence of seven classes and the student is transferring from an institution that is teaching the course in five classes, the transfer center evaluates the course to see how much is taught in those five classes compared to seven classes.

“We work with the department to massage that to figure out if we can make further adjustments, so it’s a process,” Rosa said.

The transfer center works with students to evaluate the course description. If a student feels as though they have credits that did not transfer but meet a course description offered at Murray State, Rosa said they can go into the transfer center and discuss the situation with them.

“So typically I will go through those fall through courses with them and say ‘okay, show me where this should be working into your major,’” Rosa said. “So it’s really just looking at them one-by-one.”

Rosa encourages students to look into course substitution within the major to allow their credits to work toward their benefit.

About 43 percent of students encounter transferring problems, a majority of transfer students do not face issues with their college credit.

Eli Liske, Murray State alum from Covington Illinois, transferred from Rend Lake College. He said all his credits transferred and he actually had too many.

“Too much transferred,” Liske said. “I couldn’t use them all.”

Liske came in as a junior from, but because of his credits, he was considered a senior.

Liske said nine students he knew of that transferred in at the same time as him and all of their credits transferred with ease.

Raylee Smarr, senior from Versailles, Kentucky, said all of her credits transferred when she made the transition from Bellarmine University.

Smarr said there were a few credits that turn into elective credits, but she was grateful toward her advisor at Murray State for making the transition smooth.

“I had a really good time with my advisor,” Smarr said. “She did a good job with integrating me into the program.”

Smarr transferred to Murray State because she decided to go into communication disorders, and she said Murray State has a good program.

“I like that [Murray State] is really educationally inclined. They work one-on-one with you,” Smarr said. “You’re not a number, you’re a name.”

With the process being easy, Smarr said it has made it better to focus on her academics.

“I think that being easily integrated in made it less stressful, which made me focus on other things,” Smarr said.