One of the major contentions in the university setting is that transfer students, specifically from community colleges, have a seemingly unfair advantage over admits that have been at the same university all along. Academically, they seem to be given a “fast pass” to success at the university level: Their easier course credits transfer, along with their GPA based on these courses.
The student who has dutifully studied USC-level course material from freshman year onward might feel undercut with regard to the university’s treatment of these transfers.
Understandably, the decision to transfer is a multifaceted issue and must be approached as such. One would be hard pressed to find someone who resents another student solely because he was a transfer student. But presently, the benefits granted to community college transfers greatly outweigh those granted to students who have attended a four-year university since their first semester of postsecondary education.
Four-year USC students are unfairly restricted in their ability to pursue outside academic options.
Katherine Koehler, a freshman spring admit majoring in art history, attended a junior college the semester before coming to USC. She described her classes there as “really easy,” saying, “the level of difficulty wasn’t up to par with USC’s.”
As the “Transferring to USC” brochure claims, “Seventy-five percent of your transferable courses should satisfy General Education or other core requirements, or subject prerequisites for your intended major.” Now, those of us who have taken G.E.s at USC or other prerequisite courses know they are some of the more difficult classes most have to attend. It would be a considerable boon to be able to take these at an easier level.
The university holds inconsistent principles with regard to these courses: On the one hand, it encourages transfer students and spring admits to knock out as much of the core as possible before coming to the university, while on the other, those already enrolled at the university may no longer take core courses anywhere but USC.
So what then should the university change? Is it fair to demand that a student transferring in his junior year retake what amounts to a year’s worth of classes? We could call it a penalty on the indecisive, but this doesn’t take into account exceptional cases where students planned to transfer all along. In addition, implementing this policy would place extra strain on the university in that it would have to open up a substantially larger number of slots in G.E. courses to accommodate transfers who would most likely be learning redundant material anyway.
Also, we must consider this issue from the perspective of transfer students. If they go to community college with the ultimate plan of transferring into ’SC, what classes should they take to prepare? G.E.s seem the most logical choice; these are less relevant to their majors, so the transition between community college and USC should be correspondingly less important.
The solution then should be to allow all students to fulfill G.E. requirements at USC or elsewhere so that those who want to capitalize on the less strenuous curricula of community colleges would be able to do so. Students who enter as freshmen in the fall should not be punished for their timely matriculation, and neither should transfers be punished for planning ahead academically.
In this way, everyone wins; because all options are available, everyone can choose what best suits him or her.
Reid Roman is a freshman majoring in industrial and systems engineering.