Make it easier to claim credits from out-of-state schools

Jennifer Beck

Like many other students, I came to UT with credit from a community college that I earned through a dual credit high school course. I scoured UT websites in an attempt to see which UT courses my credit could count for  — an attempt that was unsuccessful. The only way for me to see which credits would transfer was to blindly send my transcript to UT and hope that the credit I earned would count for something.

While searching for credit transfer information, I was continually redirected to the Automated Transfer Equivalency (ATE) system website, which acts as a huge database for UT course transfer equivalencies from a variety of public and private institutions in the state of Texas. Students with any non-UT college credits — high school dual credit or otherwise — can access the system and see UT course equivalencies for the credits they wish to transfer.

However, one large group of students faces limitations when using this system — out-of-state students. While the ATE system is a great resource for those with credit from Texas institutions, it does not serve students with credit from out-of-state schools. 

To best serve UT’s out-of-state student population, the Office of Admissions should work with out-of-state institutions to add transfer equivalency information for those colleges and universities to UT courses.

According to Mike Washington, associate director of admissions, the department within the Office of Admissions that handles credit transfers and the ATE system is called the Articulation Unit. 

“We have to look at every catalogue at every institution in the state of Texas, and we look for changes,” Washington said. “In other words, when their curriculum or courses are changed, we have to then change our equivalencies in The University of Texas at Austin.”

There are thousands of higher education institutions in the United States. That being said, it is neither efficient, nor even possible, to gather transfer equivalency information from every institution in the country. 

“(The Articulation Unit) has to look for changes in the course offerings at every institution in the state of Texas annually,” Washington said. “It wouldn’t be feasible to do it that way for every institution in the country.”

Laila Cook, a  biology freshman from Kentucky, came to UT with about 32 credit hours under her belt — almost all of which were from dual credit courses she took in high school. Without any way to see which credits would transfer to UT, Cook sent all of her credits to the school, where 29 of those 32 credit hours were successfully transferred.

“I was upset when I found out my VAPA that I took at a large university in Kentucky didn’t transfer,” Cook said. “(Being able to see what transfers) would be so useful to high school students coming from out of state.”

UT’s out-of-state population is drawn from all over the country, but certain states  — California, Illinois, New Jersey — contribute a higher concentration of students than others. Out-of-state students transfer credits from the same out-of-state institutions year after year, and UT should form relationships with those institutions in order to introduce credit transfer information for their courses.

To make transfer equivalency information more accessible to out-of-state students, the Office of Admissions should work with community colleges and other institutions in areas that consistently contribute high numbers of out-of-state students to introduce out-of-state institutions into the ATE system.

Including out-of-state institutions in this system will help out-of-state students manage their credits and progress through their degree plan.

Beck is a radio-television-film freshman from Park Ridge, Illinois.