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GW’s transfer policy keeps students from getting ahead

Every student has a different college plan – some graduate early, study abroad or double-major. But students also have to deal with taking introductory and general requirement courses that slow down their academic plans. And for students looking to get ahead and open up their class schedules, the option of transferring credits from other universities proves difficult with GW’s current transfer credit policy.

Many college students take courses at other universities during school breaks to open up their schedules at GW. I took microeconomics over winter break at a state university back home to get ahead on my business minor requirements and open up my schedule for the classes I was more interested in. But while I was able to get ahead on some of my requirements, students are only allowed to transfer a total of nine credit hours, or three three-credit courses, from other accredited universities to count toward their overall credit requirements to graduate.

GW’s transfer credit policy, which applies to students in every school at the University, stops students from graduating early, studying abroad or simply getting ahead of their coursework. Students in most schools have to take some kind of general requirements regardless of what they want to major in. And these liberal arts courses could fill up students’ schedules to prevent them from taking other courses that match their interests. To solve this problem, GW should revise its transfer credit policy to allow students to take up to 15 credits, or one semester’s worth of classes, at other universities. By allowing students to get one semester worth of credits under their belts, students would be able to knock out most general requirement classes at other universities.

Before students can study abroad during the academic year, the University requires that they earn 45 credit hours. Therefore, most students end up going abroad in their junior year. But if students were able to transfer more credits from summer courses or college credit opportunities in high school, then they would have the flexibility to study abroad earlier or more than once, graduate early to save money or take advantage of opportunities like internships and jobs.

GW’s transfer credit policy can make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for students to graduate early. GW allows students to transfer up to 24 Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits plus any credits earned at other colleges before they enroll at GW. But many students don’t arrive at GW with many credits because some schools don’t offer AP or IB courses.

GW allows transfer students to bring up to 60 credits from their previous institution, which equates to about two years worth of classes. When students switch universities, their transfer classes can count for G-PAC requirements. This prevents them from falling behind on their academic plans and allows them to jump right into classes for their majors and minors. Officials should use the transfer student policy as a precedent for expanding the number of credits that matriculated students can transfer.

It makes sense to get some of the slow-moving, general education requirements out of the way during summer or winter terms at other universities. Taking these courses allows students to get ahead on their academic plans, and courses at local community colleges or state universities tend to be cheaper than GW courses. Plus, G-PAC requirements might scare some Columbian College of Arts and Sciences students who are worried about taking courses that aren’t in their strong suits and might negatively affect their GPA.

GW’s policy makes it difficult for students to take elective courses, especially when there is such a limited number of fall-through classes that students can take because of G-PAC and major and minor requirements. Although many students at GW are in the CCAS liberal arts program, students would still get a liberal arts education if they took liberal arts classes elsewhere and focused on their majors at GW. This would not only allow them to free up their schedules for elective courses but would also ensure that they are still receiving a liberal arts education.

GW’s strict transfer credit policy sets students back. The policy inhibits students from graduating early or studying abroad. If students were allowed to enroll in more than three classes for credit at other schools, they would be better able to decide their academic paths.

Christina DeBartolomeo, a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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