Apr2017, Opinion&Letters
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Transfer Student Experiences

I struggle to criticize the university my family is paying to educate me. I am grateful for the opportunity to study here, and I must contribute to the university’s improvement both for its sake and for my own. This includes pointing out major flaws in the university’s policies. I believe many of Quest’s policies uphold our institutional dogmas above the best interests of students. This is particularly true with respect to the transfer credit policy.

The university accepts a maximum of one year’s worth of transfer credits, but is extremely reluctant to assign any of them as Foundation credits. Consequently, transfer students are often forced to spend almost two of their three years at Quest in Foundation classes.

By the time they get into the Concentration program, transfer students  are barely left with enough time to get through their six focus courses, let alone enjoy other key parts of the Quest curriculum like experiential learning and exchanges. Imagine your Concentration program being only one year long, and the impact this would have on helping you explore the academic areas related to your Keystone.

Since I got to Quest, I’ve been battling with the transfer credit process and I know many other transfer students have been as well. I’ve made a concerted effort to find out why the school’s policies are the way they are, and this is the opinion I have formed after conversations with faculty, students, and administrators.

According to my research, transfer students are sort of an afterthought at Quest. Curt Wasson, the Chair of the Transfer Credit Evaluation Committee, spoke to me in an interview: “From what I understand, because I wasn’t here at the time, there was a question about whether we would even accept transfer credits [at all].” In other words, transfer students were not originally included in Quest’s educational model, though Wasson added that the system has undergone some changes since.

My question is, if a decade has passed since the transfer credit process was established, is the policy still appropriate? According to Wasson, “a couple of things have changed”. The members of the transfer credit committee have changed, and as of 2016 they have started to keep electronic records of previous credit decisions, in an effort to establish clearer institutional precedent. Only since last year has this process been shifted away from paper forms which relied on the memory of the select faculty members who had been involved in the process.

This shift has not addressed the fundamental issues with Quest’s transfer credit process, however. The current policy does not center on transfer students whose access to education should be the priority in this conversation.

From my research it seems as if faculty and staff value the current process because it is already established and thoroughly scrutinizes the academic credentials of incoming transfers. It also allows Quest to affirm, yet again, that our curriculum does not conform to anybody else’s standards. Interestingly enough, none of this addresses the impact of the transfer credit process on the opportunities or educational experience of transfer students at Quest.

Once Quest Admissions decided I was a good fit for the university, the transfer policy should assist the university in serving my education – not to fold my previous experience into the boxes of its educational dogma. Transfer students’ opportunities for a meaningful educational experience at Quest are severely curtailed if they are not given more freedom to choose the classes—whether Foundations or Concentrations—that most benefit their educations. Had I been aware of the university’s transfer policy before I began my studies here, I would have reconsidered whether Quest was the right place for me.

This is not an isolated incident. There are many transfer students who feel similarly and regret having come here. My first year roommate–another transfer student–chose to transfer back out. And there are others who would like to as well, but don’t feel so inclined after having already invested a year’s worth of tuition in the school.

If the university decided to accept transfer credits, they must have concluded that those with prior university experience do have something valuable to contribute to this community. Awarding transfer credit is how the institution acknowledges this value. In my experience, and that of many other transfer students, Quest has systematically overlooked the value of our previous university education.

The transfer policy undercuts our ability to pursue a meaningful Quest career. I therefore urgently call upon our faculty and administration to fundamentally change Quest’s transfer policy – putting the education of transfer students first.

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