Transfer students deserve better signature course options

Jeff Rose

When I arrived here at UT, I had to hit the ground running. As transfer students, we have to catch up our first several semesters by taking the right classes, and we’re forced to take a UGS Signature Course if we aren’t core complete. These signature courses are an additional burden on transfer students who are trying to catch up at UT. With an unfriendly petitioning system that looks at previous college courses rather than how long one’s been in college, transfer students deserve a more understanding system that examines us on a case-by-case basis in order to determine whether we need the UGS class or not. 

According to Jeffrey Mayo, a senior-program coordinator, “the Signature Course challenges students to develop skills and utilize campus resources that will help them throughout their years at UT Austin and beyond.” However, Hayley Woods, a rhetoric and writing junior and a transfer from St. Edwards University, felt that her UGS class did not accomplish this goal. It didn’t familiarize her with UT’s resources or prepare her more than her previous college experience or other UT courses. It just felt like another course.

This is a feeling I had about my own class as well. While freshmen may benefit from taking these UGS classes, transfer students must have at least 24 or 30 hours to be able to apply to UT. We come to UT being experienced in college writing, communication and study habits — the exact purpose of the course. Many universities also require courses like the signature course. Woods and I both had to take one from our own universities. The class I took previously showed me the resources and skills needed to be successful more than my UGS ever did.

Additionally, as a double major with two minors, trying to fit this class into the three years I have here is difficult. Woods said that it’s difficult for transfer students to take advantage of all UT has to offer within our already limited time here, because of requirements such as the different language courses and UT’s Flag courses in addition to the UGS course. She said, “I’m feeling that pressure now going into senior year, having to balance the courses I feel would benefit me versus all the courses I have to take but aren’t relative to what I want to do.”

While there are petitions available, there isn’t any guarantee they’ll count courses equivalent to the UGS course. This is why we need a petitioning system tailored specifically for transfer students. For those of us without these courses, this needs to be a petitioning system that allows us to make a case for our college readiness and skills. Maybe this is with some sort of test, or written argument and presentation of course experience. Transfer students could wait for their first semester GPA here to prove their college readiness, allowing the system to waive the burden of an additional class. 

“Transfer students are an important part of UT-Austin,” Mayo said. If we are a vital part of this campus, we need to be able to graduate, be successful, and take advantage of all that we can during our time here. That’s not the case right now. 

Rose is an English and rhetoric and writing sophomore from The Woodlands. Follow him on Twitter @jeffroses.