‘How can it be approved?’: Transfer students struggle with flag petitions

Mengyuan Dong

Transfer students hoping to satisfy their flag requirements can petition for previous courses to count as flag courses, but the process can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Government senior Grace Neumann said she had to spend an extra semester at UT because her flag petitions were denied. 

“Flag petitions are probably the worst part of transferring, and I feel like the administration doesn’t understand what a barrier they are,” Neumann said.

UT-Austin requires students to obtain Skills and Experience Flags, which are assigned to specific courses in six areas. To transfer flag credits through petitions, students need to provide basic information about the courses they took, such as a copy of the syllabus and example assignments. 

Neumann said she got positive responses from her adviser and felt confident in everything she submitted, but her petition was still denied.

“I looked at the syllabus, and everything covered in the flagged course I petitioned for at UT was covered in my class at A&M,” Neumann said. “It really took me a while to track down every single old homework assignment, quiz and test, and then scan them into the system.”

Jeanette Herman, the assistant dean for Academic Initiatives, said the level of similarity between courses it not a decisive factor.

“A flag is not sort of a necessary component of any course,” Herman said. “What we are looking for is the degree to which the course the student took meets the flag criteria, an interpretation that the faculty committee overseeing that flag are using.”

As there is not a quantitative standard for whether a course meets the flag criteria, Herman said the more documentation students provide, the better they will know what students did in the class, which may increase their chances of success.

“The struggle to fulfill my remaining degree requirements in the two years I had on campus was a source of constant stress,” said UT alumna Alexandra Vermooten, who was denied three times for her flag petition.

Vermooten said she spent hours consulting with the flag petition advisors. Due to the flag petition issues, Vermooten said she had to switch her major to graduate on time.

“I understand that can be terribly frustrating,” Herman said. “And it can be very difficult to determine based on the course materials that students have available for them. We really would prefer that students take the flag courses here.”