New Web Site Aims to Ease the College Credit Transfer Process - Higher Education

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New Web Site Aims to Ease the College Credit Transfer Process

by Lois Elfman

The Institute for Higher Education Policy on Monday announced the launch of an enhanced Web site for the National Articulation and Transfer Network (NATN),www.natn.org/, which leaders hope will become a one-stop resource for addressing the complex issues associated with the transfer process.

 

“One of the key issues in American higher education today is the students are highly mobile. They will attend multiple institutions,” says Jamie P. Merisotis, president of IHEP. “The need for this national effort to focus on articulation and transfer has been long overdue.” With students attending multiple institutions in pursuit of a four-year degree, they need information about how to effectively and efficiently transfer credits, he adds.

 

NATN began its initial planning, structuring and implementation in 2003 at the City College of San Francisco. Merisotis says it simply became overwhelming for a single institution to try and build a national organization. There was a Web site, but its development was stalled by a lack of resources.

 

In 2006, the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, a consortium made up of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the National Association for Equal Opportunities in Higher Education, took over management of NATN and placed day-to-day development and management in the hands of IHEP, which promotes access to higher education.

 

The NATN Web site is divided into two parts, with the first part targeted toward institutions. Part two is the student portal, where all the information is provided free of charge to students and most of which does not require registration.

 

Merisotis says a long-term goal is to work with institutions to help them align their courses so that credits will be readily accepted from one institution to another. Member institutions of AIHEC, HACU and NAFEO are automatically considered members of NATN, and other colleges may apply and pay the annual membership fee of $600.

 

“We need to have enough members in order to be able to establish those broad agreements,” he says. “It won’t happen in the first three months, but in the first year or two that’s exactly what we hope to do once we build the membership base.”

 

Another goal is to develop a database where students can go and see which institutions are more likely to accept their credits. For cost reasons, an increasing number of college students may begin at two-year institutions although the goal is to earn a four-year degree. Eventually, NATN could potentially help such students strategize what courses to take with that goal in mind.

 

NATN has an agreement with Peterson’s Guide, an online resource for students with information about every college and university in the U.S. NATN members may access that information and edit or provide additional information about their institution.

 

Merisotis says NATN is not exclusively focused on minority students or minority-serving institutions.

 

“However, given the importance of transferring for minority populations, the three organizations in the Alliance are trying to provide leadership,” he notes. “We’re hoping to draw a very wide membership base and establish a wide network of institutions that will agree to an ongoing dialogue and exchange of information about transfer and articulation policies. One of the goals we have for NATN is that the members would actually start developing membership-wide articulation agreements.”

 

–Lois Elfman

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