By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
College students in Alabama can now reverse transfer credits from a four-year college or university to a two-year school in order to obtain an Associates degree, thanks to a new partnership among State colleges signed on Wednesday.
The change could immediately affect thousands of students in Alabama, allowing them to apply for Associates degrees that they’ve already earned.
“It’s a significant change that really benefits all of the parties involved,” said Glenda Colagross, the interim president at Southern Union Community College. “For the students, it allows them a credential to go on their resume that they’ve rightly earned. For the schools, it increases the graduation rates. For the State, it shows an increase in the number of degreed citizens we have in the workforce.”
Colagross was one of the original architects of the reverse transfer system, employing it originally while working at Northwest Shoals Community College as a vice president in 2011.
Looking for ways to up the graduation rate at the Muscle Shoals two-year college, Colagross said she read an article about a school in Texas trying the idea. She studied the NSCC rolls and found 65 students who had left the school to transfer to four-year colleges but who had enough credits to earn an associates degree from NSCC.
“They had just never bothered to apply for graduation,” Colagross said, “because that was not their purpose there. They were going on to a four-year school.”
In the coming years, Colagross had the idea to expand that practice and open it up to students who had gone on to those four-year colleges, earned credits there and could now apply back to the two-year schools for degrees.
“As long as a student has completed 25 percent of their core work at the two-year college, that college gets the credit for the graduate,” Colagross said.
Under the new agreement, which has been pushed by State Sen Gerald Dial, that process is now open to all students, and the State has incorporated the National Student Clearinghouse into the process to ensure all bases are covered.
Presidents from every college in the Alabama Community College system, every four-year university in the State and Huntingdon College all signed on to the plan.
“Whenever you can work with the two-year colleges and bring all of the institutions together, it’s a good thing,” said Troy University president Dr. Jack Hawkins. “We see this as a tremendous opportunity to help the State and the students.”