HAMLET — An agreement managing transfer credits from Richmond Community College to North Carolina public universities has been modified to provide students the opportunity to obtain a four-year degree for less money.
Beginning this fall semester, each North Carolina university will develop, publish and maintain plans that identify community college courses that will transfer from two-year institutions to four-year colleges for the seamless acquisition of a four-year degree.
“This new agreement goes a long way in taking the guesswork out of choosing classes that will transfer to the universities,” said RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis. “This is something that community colleges have struggled with for some time, and in the past it put students in a position where they would lose too many credits when they transferred. The new (comprehensive articulation agreement) is a great tool for us to advise our students so that the process is as efficient as possible.”
The statewide agreements only apply to associate in arts and associate in science programs, but RCC also has independent agreements with several local universities that provide for smooth transitions in associate in applied science programs.
“These agreements allow students to create a plan for their education where they attend two years of school at RCC before transferring to a larger university,” said Patsy Stanley, director of university transfer services at RCC.
Stanley said advantages of students getting their start on a four-year degree at RCC include lower tuition, staying close to home and smaller classes sizes with approachable instructors.
Aaron Richardson of Ellerbe is one of many students who have taken advantage of RCC’s articulation agreement.
A 2006 graduate of Richmond Senior High School, Richardson enrolled at RCC to complete his basic classes before transferring to UNC-Charlotte to obtain a double bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and physics. Upon graduation, Richardson returned to Richmond County after being hired by Superior Cranes Inc., where he is now a project engineer.
“For me, attending RCC was a financial decision,” said Richardson. “I knew the classes there would be just as good as anywhere else, but I could take them for a much lower cost.”
Richardson said he felt RCC was a perfect stepping stone for his career and prepared him to succeed at UNC-Charlotte, where he is now in the process of pursuing a master’s degree.
The University of North Carolina and state community college systems have had a comprehensive articulation agreement in place since 1997; however, the two entities voted to update the policy in February to make the process easier for community college students wishing to pursue a four-year degree.
Changes made in the updated policy include:
• Universities have agreed to a list of universal general education transfer courses that are guaranteed to transfer to each of the 16 institutions within the UNC system.
• Completion of the college transfer degree guarantees transfer of 60 semester hours of college credit, provided the student maintains a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and receives a grade of “C” or better on all CAA courses.
In addition, the new agreement grants junior status to transferees and assures admission to any of the 16 University of North Carolina institutions.
Gov. Pat McCrory has praised the updated policy.
“Thanks to the teamwork of North Carolina’s community colleges and public universities, thousands of students will attain their degrees faster and at a fraction of the cost,” McCrory said in a statement.
A similar statewide agreement is also being considered by N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, which is a group composed of the state’s 36 private, nonprofit, liberal arts, research and comprehensive colleges and universities. RCC already has individual agreements with several of those private schools, including Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, Barton College in Wilson and Wingate University.
Advisers at RCC can assist students in planning their degree path effectively.
A complete list of RCC program agreements may be found under the student services tab at www.richmondcc.edu by clicking on “College Transfer.”