All schools within the State University of New York (SUNY) recently adapted seamless transfer, a policy that will allow transfer students to carry all earned general education and major required courses from any of SUNY’s 64 campuses to any other.
With over 30,000 students transferring within SUNY every year the decision to simplify the transfer process will benefit many. But the details are still being worked out. The program aims to help students by minimizing the time it takes to graduate, decreasing student debt and increasing the amount of earned degrees.
“We have students at New Paltz this fall who transferred here from 46 different SUNY campuses,” said SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian. “If you think about all the majors that those students could have and all the course credits they are transferring here as well as all the course equivalences that have to be set, it is easy to see that this is a very laborious project. We are still working on finalizing those data sets.”
These data sets will allow for a course from another college to easily be transferred to New Paltz’s system so that the student will get credit. By 2020 SUNY projects that the amount of awarded degrees will rise from 93,000 to 150,000, due to the programs projected efficiency.
According to Vice President of Enrollment David L. Eaton, the ultimate goal of the SUNY system is to have Degree Works, the online student progress report, connect to all institutions. This would allow students to see what a degree track would look like at any SUNY school, based on the students completed credits.
“As a national conversation, the whole transfer thing is pretty large right now that the US department of education has certainly stated its position along with Congress,” Eaton said. “If you take courses at a credible school anywhere, all those credits should count.”
In the spring semester of 2015, third-year English major Gam LaFrance transferred from Nassau County Community College to SUNY New Paltz. His two years of experience at Nassau narrowed his focus and lead him to double major in French and English. After graduating Nassau and transferring to New Paltz, LaFrance realized that he was entering a semester behind in credits because not all could be transferred.
“Coming here has given me many more options than I am accustomed to,” LaFrance said. “The opportunities have also been very plentiful as well.”
LaFrance also said that these freedoms can seem out of reach to transfer students who fall behind a semester in terms of credits.
Second-year graphic design major Beth Killroy, also transferred in Spring 2015 from SUNY Alfred to SUNY New Paltz. Kilroy said she felt unfulfilled at SUNY Alfred and sought to transfer her credits to the school that she described as beautiful and filled with kind people.
“I faced no difficulty when transferring credits,” Kilroy said. “It was easy and simple.”
According to Christian, the Jointly Registered Teacher Education Programs (JRTEP), has already been implemented at several of the community colleges in New York. The purpose of JRTEP is so that if a student enters a different college under this program and manages to maintain a 3.0, that sudent is guaranteed acceptance into New Paltz
Seamless transfer is made possible by identifying 52 specific transfer paths students can embark on for their major, according to a press release. For such paths to be created over 1,000 SUNY faculty members worked in groups based on their discipline to determine an outline of courses for each of SUNY’s majors, according to the release. These paths give transfer students a clear model of what courses are required to complete a specific major.
To further graduation timeliness, seamless transfer also has a credit cap component. By limiting the number of credits associated with certain degrees, SUNY can make sure students are only taking classes they truly need, with a few electives. The downside to this is that many courses have been cut from various programs.
Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the SUNY Board of Trustees initially announced the concept of seamless transfer in 2012 and has promised its implementation beginning at some point this fall.
Several SUNY campuses have already begun using seamless transfer with success. SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo have already begun using the new system. SUNY New Paltz has not currently released a date for when seamless transfer will become effective.
SUNY’s transfer upgrade is additionally compatible with Open SUNY, an online program that offers 12,000 courses and 400 degree programs and Degree Works.