SC TRAC to help with smoother transfers
College students will likely lose fewer credits in the process of transferring from one of the state's public institutions to another with a little planning and the help of a new online tool.
The State Commission on Higher Education launched a Web site called SC TRAC to help students, parents and counselors learn whether a course at one school will transfer to another and how many credits a student will receive for it.
Melissa Stowasser, director of high school programs at Trident Technical College, said the tool will be extremely useful to help college students who plan to transfer and high school students who are taking dual enrollment courses, for which they earn college credit.
Now, she said, "students have to go shopping at each institution, and that's unwieldy."
There is no uniform statewide transfer system, she said, so students have to inquire at each school to learn how particular courses will transfer and how many credits they would earn.
For instance, she said, credits for an English 101 course that a student takes at Trident will transfer to the University of South Carolina. But students must take both English 101 and 102 at Trident Tech to earn credits and knock out the basic English requirement at Clemson University. A student who transferred to Clemson with only English 101 from Trident Tech would earn elective credits, she said, but would have to take Clemson's introductory English course.
The new Web portal will help students see which schools will accept most of their credits and which ones they should avoid if they don't want to repeat courses or lose credits, Stowasser said.
The site also will help students find information related to transfers, such as application deadlines and contact information for transfer officers, a release from the Commission on Higher Education stated. It also will include information on transfer agreements between the state's public colleges and universities.
About 180,000 students attend the state's public colleges, according to the commission, and more than 15,000, or about 8 percent, of them are transfer students. And more than 11,000 students take college courses while they are still in high school.
John Childs, 29, a music major at the College of Charleston who transferred from Trident Tech, said the new online tool would have been useful to him.
He took basic or core courses at Trident, then transferred, assuming that was the logical way to complete a degree.
But when he got to the College of Charleston, he learned that his jazz music program, a performance major, required him to take a sequence of courses over three and half to four years.
If he had known, he might have taken his music courses at the College of Charleston at the same time he was taking basic academic course at Trident, he said.
Dorinda Harmon, director of transfer and adult student admission at the College of Charleston, said the tool is useful, especially if students know to which school they want to transfer. "But it doesn't take the place of sitting down with an adviser," she said. Advisers can help students in a more comprehensive way.
But the new site is a good first step for transfer students, she said. "There's nothing more sad than talking to a student who has taken courses that will not transfer."