Students are people too

By The Columbia Chronicle

Like many students, I was attracted to Columbia’s city campus, liberal arts courses, and staff of working professionals. This was one year ago; at the time, I was unhappily attending Western Illinois University, so I decided to transfer.

It sounds simple enough – fill out the application, write the essay, and have your transcripts sent to the school. I found out I was accepted in no time – two or three weeks after my application was sent in-but I never heard anything about my transfer credits. I had requested my transcripts from WIU, Joliet Junior College, (where I had taken a summer course,) and my CLEP scores. So I called, nothing. I waited, nothing. Then, the week before I was to start school, I received a letter telling me which credits transfer. This was great, except it contained only my WIU credits, and said nothing about JJC or CLEP.

Not only that, but a class I took at WIU that is offered at Columbia did not transfer. During registration, I talked with my adviser, who told me that to appeal credits you need to write a letter. I did this several times and still heard nothing. I also hadn’t heard anything about my other credits.

The semester passed by and I registered again, my other credits still not present on my transcript. The people in Records didn’t know how to help me, and other people were telling me to write letters, which never got responded to. During this past semester, when I spoke with my adviser about my upcoming semester, I found out my CLEP credit had magically appeared on my transcript. Thanks for telling me!

I called Records again to hear about my other credits and they connected me directly with the evaluator. An appointment was set up and everything was easy. The evaluator informed me that my JJC request was never responded to. Again, thanks for telling me. Let me clarify, through the entire bureaucratic part of my transferring, this was the nicest part. The evaluator was very helpful; it was just getting to that part that was horrible. I went in ready for a hassle but was very happy to have a pleasant conversation with the evaluator.

Finally, a year later, my other credits for JJC will begin to be processed. My other credits that I had sent several letters out appealing their denial were not accepted because of some unknown reason given by the Dean of Students. Yet again, thanks for telling me this.

Why not accept a course that you teach in your school? Can many of these courses be that different? An unnamed friend of mine also had a problem with her transfer process. It seems literature courses from the University of Arizona are not up to par to fill Columbia’s general education requirements. My literature course from WIU did fill the general education requirement. Things like this I don’t comprehend. WIU is now for law enforcement and corn, not literature, but it is accepted at Columbia while University of Arizona’s is not.

I understand that keeping records and the mix of admissions with evaluating transcripts is a lot of work, but every transfer student I’ve spoken with has expressed one problem or another. The department needs to have better customer service. They are dealing with a major part of students’ futures and must learn how to take care of them If they were a business, they would probably be closed down.

The solution is simple – train the people and respond to the students. Students’ letters should not go unanswered. If something is not going right, whether it is Columbia’s fault or the other schools’, the student should be kept informed. Department workers and advisers should know what steps students should take to make the transfer process simple and easy. Don’t force students to write letters when all they have to do is make an appointment to get everything done.

Minus the administrative problems I’ve had with Columbia, I’ve been happy with my overall educational experience. It seems, though, that the educational experience gets caught in administrative red tape and causes unneeded stress.