INFORUM: NDSU, NDSCS create program to support transfer students

By Grace Lyden

North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science announced a new program Tuesday that will make it easier for transfer students to earn associate degrees.

Under the reverse transfer agreement signed by NDSU President Dean Bresciani and NDSCS President John Richman, students who have taken courses at both schools will be eligible for an associate degree once they've earned 36 credits from NDSCS and 15 credits from NDSU.

Richman said this will be particularly helpful for students who transfer to NDSU from Wahpeton-based NDSCS but are unable to complete the four-year degree.

"Life situations happen," he said at the news conference on the NDSCS Fargo campus. "And where are they? Deeper in debt and with no degree."

Officials don't know how many students this will affect, but they plan to identify and contact eligible students in the fall.

Bresciani said the agreement will also help students who transfer in the other direction.

"We certainly have a lot of students who get to NDSU, 'I'm going to be a chemical engineer,' and after about their sophomore year decide, 'maybe welding's what I want to do,' " he said. "We don't want those students to walk out without a college education, without some sort of degree to show for it, and so if they go and finish up with welding, fantastic. They've got a university experience and an exceptional vocational experience."

The program is the first of its kind in North Dakota, and interim Chancellor Larry Skogen said it could serve as a template for other institutions in the university system.

"This is sort of a Neil Armstrong step in the right direction," he said.

Bresciani said he approached Richman about starting the program about two years ago, when he heard of colleges around the country implementing similar partnerships. To Bresciani, the program seemed particularly appropriate for North Dakota.

"The employers' demand for people with a college education, at least a two-year degree, is only going up, and if we don't do this, we're contributing to our businesses's lack of success," he said.

Although transfer students will continue to count against graduation rates in federal measures, the system will be tracking students in this program and reflecting the improvement internally, Bresciani said.

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