Students face transfer credit issues under PLAN

By Arielle Esteban

Contributing Writer

Despite assurances that the new core curriculum credits are easily transferable, nine out of the 13 students interviewed have cited difficulties getting credits transferred at their new schools.

simmons

Source: Simmons College

Carol Chiu, a current third-semester freshman at Northeastern University, was not able to transfer credits under the new core curriculum, despite having “A”s in those courses. “Northeastern did not accept any of my credits,” she said. “They said it was because there was no equivalent course here that matched them.”

Chiu is not the only one encountering problems. Out of the nine students who cited obstacles getting credits transferred, six of them are in a current third-semester status rather than having a sophomore status as direct result. Of the six students, three students are waiting on their current administration’s decision on their credits.

The core curriculum, named the Simmons PLAN, was established as the new core curriculum for the incoming class of 2019 and was designed to help students:

1. Engage with the city of Boston

2. Develop their own understanding of leadership

3. Engage in integrative learning across academic disciplines

4. Design key components of their course of study.

The PLAN came under fire last spring however, when approximately 300 students signed an online petition on change.org. expressing concerns with the lack of transferable credits, hindering study abroad hopefuls, and whether or not students interested in double majoring who also want to graduate early.

Director of General Education Catherine Paden sent out an e-mail responding to the items written out in the change.org petition in April, citing that the concerns expressed with courses in the PLAN being non-transferable were “inaccurate” because under the policies of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, PLAN credits are transferable.

But former students under the PLAN have said differently.

Saffron Schober is a current third-semester freshman at UMass Boston.

She only received partial credit for her Boston Course despite getting an A and it being “similar to the first-year writing course at UMass.” Schober stated that because none of her freshman courses transferred, she was currently stuck in limbo. Schober added that she is required to take a freshman sociology course which was “literally the same as the Simmons Course.”

The four other students had a different outcome and managed to gain sophomore status albeit with some difficulty.

Elizabeth Donoghue, a sophomore at UMass Amherst, got to transfer her credits from the Boston Course and was then exempted from having to take a freshman writing course. “I told administration that the Simmons PLAN course should accredit that I’ve taken a writing course my freshman year,” she said. “A week later they gave me credit and I got out of the requirement—but I had to fight for it to be accredited.” But she did not receive credit for the Simmons Course because “it was so directed at acclimation to Simmons.”

In spite of the current issues the former Simmons students are facing, administration admitted that there was little they can do once the students have chosen to transfer—it was ultimately up to the receiving schools to decide if they would accept the credits or not.

Paden stated that Simmons could not control how receiving schools would translate the PLAN courses  into their respective curricula. “We’ve done our best in laying out the PLAN courses and how those credits can be transferred,” Paden explained. “It’s clearly defined in the syllabus but it’s really up to the receiving schools to see what do those respective credits fulfill at their school.”

Manager of Degree Audit and Transfer Credit Sarah Hurd reiterated the previous statement, citing the differences with how colleges select what qualifies as transfer credits as the main issue when it comes to transfer credits. “There really isn’t anything we can do,” she said. “At this point, all students can do is push back against the decision of their current administration.”

The turnout of former Simmons students under the PLAN facing transfer credit and status problems despite being told that the credits under the PLAN would surely transfer showed a lack in part of the administration for failing to accurately tell students that there would be no guarantee to a full transfer of credits.

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