By Maleesa Johnson
Four years of planning for the Baylor Bound program culminated Monday as Baylor President Ken Starr and Dr. Johnette McKown, McLennan Community College President, signed the program into existence.
“Baylor’s partnership is critical to McLennan and to the people in McLennan County,” McKown said. “Our Board of Trustees and I really value our longstanding relationship and we look forward to even a closer and better relationship as we go forward. We also know that the future and quality of our community and state are dependent on just these kind of allowances and we know that our students will be successful because of that.”
Baylor Bound is a new transfer program between Baylor and McLennan Community College that will begin in the fall semester of 2014. This program is geared to help students transfer more easily between the two colleges. The program is only available to students who initially enroll at MCC as full-time students and aim to receive a bachelor’s degree from Baylor.
McKnown said Baylor Bound is meant for students that plan carefully.
This fall, recruiting for Baylor Bound will start in local high schools. Students interested in the program can show their interest in joining by filling out a membership application.
“When you think about education in America, you don’t have to read too many newspapers or go on Facebook or Twitter. Social media is just filled with expressions of concern or at time criticism of the access to higher education,” Starr said. “Is it accessible anymore?”
Starr said by signing the document for Baylor Bound, education is becoming more accessible. Most students in Baylor Bound will begin their college career with one year of classes at MCC followed by three years at Baylor. However, some students may be allowed to evenly split their four-year degree plan into two years at MCC and two years at Baylor, depending on their major and number of transfer credit hours.
Baylor Bound offers 66 majors. Students accepted into the program will be admitted into Baylor after applying only if they obtain a minimum of 2.5 GPA during their time at MCC. Since students will be working toward a specific degree offered at Baylor, all the credits from MCC will transfer over when they start their next year at Baylor.
“The Baylor faculty and MCC faculty have gotten together to talk about the kinds of things that would help students be successful at Baylor,” said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost at Baylor. “So I think some of those issues might arise if students aren’t really planning what they take at MCC and then thinking about what’s going to work at Baylor.”
Sinda Vanderpool, assistant vice provost for academic enrollment management, began working with the staff at McLennan Community College about four and a half years ago in an effort to establish a stronger partnership between the institutions. She said she thinks the Baylor Bound program will help dissolve any perceived barriers transfer students may have.
“The students look at the sticker price at Baylor and middle class families and lower income students look at it and just go ‘ha!’ and can’t even imagine being able to afford that,” Vanderpool said. “Another perceived barrier is students coming in and not having their credits transfer. We have been working on that for the past three years and hope that it will be mitigated.”
During their time at MCC, students will work alongside advisers from both colleges. Baylor Bound students will have opportunities to learn more about Baylor by meeting with counselors, attending events on Baylor’s campus and registering early for their first semester. Students can also use Baylor’s libraries.
This is not the first co-signing of a document by Starr and McKown. In October 2011, they signed a document for a program called Baylor@MCC. This program was intended for students that initially applied to Baylor, but were waitlisted due to space constraints. Students in this program, upon completing a year at MCC with a 2.5 GPA, can then transfer to Baylor.