We’re losing transferability, and it’s a problem

It’s no secret that attending Baylor is expensive. In order to maximize the efficiency with which they move through their college years, many students save time and money by taking non-essential courses at community colleges or online. Unfortunately, one of Baylor’s summer policy changes now prohibits students from transferring in upper-level courses.

According to Baylor’s “General Policies on Transfer Credits” online, “No course at or above the ‘3000’ level may be taken at a community/junior college, and no community/junior college course will be evaluated as an advanced course.”

Baylor has always had fairly stringent policies on transferring credits from other colleges: Historically, they have limited the number of hours students can transfer in and insisted that we take our last 30 hours of courses in-residence. While the previous rules were an understandable effort to maintain the quality of Baylor degrees by ensuring that students who graduate with a Baylor diploma truly earned it, placing a blanket ban on transferring in any upper-level courses doesn’t help maintain the Baylor standard; it only puts students at a disadvantage.

Many students previously transferred in non-essential upper-level courses and electives in order to save money. In the 2015-2016 scholastic year, one hour of semester courses at Baylor cost approximately $1,515, according to Baylor’s Institutional Research and Testing website, while one semester hour at McLennan Community College costs, on average, between $106 and $181, according to McLennan Community College’s website. We are all aware that Baylor is a private school and that our tuition reflects a highly respected level of education, but prohibiting students from taking upper-level courses anywhere but at Baylor only serves to make our university more elitist and less affordable and accessible to the average student.

In addition, Baylor requires over 120 hours of semester credit to graduate, and students in particular dual-degree programs can sometimes need upwards of 130 hours. To graduate on time, many students fill their summers with classes, so limiting the courses they can take at colleges near their homes or workplaces over the summer can delay graduation.

Not only does this change hinder students in their pursuit of a diploma, but it also blindsided many upperclassmen who had planned their schedules around being able to transfer certain classes. To clarify: this rule was placed in effect over the summer. Students who took, passed and, most importantly, already paid for upper-level courses at community or junior colleges received a rude awakening when they attempted to transfer those credits at the end of the summer. Baylor offered us no advanced warning: the transfers were allowed, and then suddenly, they were not.

Baylor’s decision-makers should consider the students, particularly the upperclassmen, when making decisions that could affect how we plan our semesters. If they believe limiting transferable courses is the way to help raise school funds or maintain respect for Baylor graduates, then so be it, but they should at least grandfather in the changes. In other words, these changes should apply only to the incoming freshmen class and those that follow after, instead of the student body as a whole. This would be similar to how changes in degree plans are implemented and would give students the forewarning they need to plan their semesters appropriately.

Perhaps these policy changes will eventually reveal themselves to be for the best, but in the present, they only seem to put students at a disadvantage. As students here, we are all eager to walk the stage and become proud Baylor graduates, but altering the rules regarding transferable credits seems only to work to make that more and more difficult.