Transferring Credits Proves to be Easier Said Than Done

by Kimberly Hood

         All Walmart stores have the same prices and basic items regardless of the store’s location. Similarly, you can always count on McDonalds for Happy Meals and a Dollar Menu. Following this trend of established names one might be tempted to think that every school within the University of Tennessee system has the same standard curriculum and courses, however, such logic would be mistaken.

         The University of Tennessee system has 3 main undergraduate campuses- Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Martin. While these campuses may specialize in different things, they all offer many of the same majors. However, the requirements for common majors often vary greatly from school to school.

          Ann Briarwood, a junior Communications major at UTK who transferred from UTM learned this the hard way. She explains, “After my first year at Martin I began to plan on transferring, so during my second year I planned my schedule by looking at the equivalency tables and trying to only take courses that would transfer. Even at that I lost 12 hours of credit from my first year, and 3 hours from my second year. I was really annoyed because all of those courses had met requirements for General Ed or my Communications major at Martin and when I went there I assumed that the courses and requirements would be the same among UT schools.” These sentiments were echoed by other transfer students who lost anywhere from 3-18 credit hours when they transferred to UTK from other University of Tennessee schools.

         While credits are commonly lost in any transfer, it seems that the students who lose the most credits are those transferring to UTK. Joel Pollom transferred from UTK to UTC and only lost 6 hours of credit from a year and a half of classes, a figure drastically lower than those who transfered into UTK. 

        Also, the University system makes it very difficult on students who plan on transferring to know what courses will transfer. The same courses have different numbers at all three schools. For instance, College Algebra is Math 119 at UTK, Math 131 at UTC, and Math 140 at UTM. This variation in course numbers is completely unnecessary.  It's the same class so why shouldn't it be called the same thing?  The confusion doesn’t  even stop there. While College Algebra is a standard course and transfers to all the UT Universities, it counts as a Quantitative Reasoning elective at UTM and UTC, but does not meet any requirement at UTK- another unnecessary inconsistency.

         Chloe Lively, a junior French major at UTC who transferred from UTK after her sophomore year says, “I had no idea how many credits I would lose when I transferred. The equivalency tables only offer listings for basic classes, and UTC would only assess my credits after I had been accepted to the University. Even then many of my courses didn’t transfer and had to be appealed. I was already attending the school for weeks before I had a definite answer on what would and wouldn’t transfer.”  After it was all said and done, Lively only lost 9 hours, and says she was relatively pleased given stories she had heard from others.  

          Another discrepancy is that at UTC and UTM some classes such as Economics are broken into two separate classes. At UTC and UTM the only way to take Economics is in two different classes- micro and macro. However, at UTK the only option is to take both micro and macro in one class. Therefore, UTM and UTC students who plan on transferring to UTK are forced to take two classes in order to get one credit for Economics, and if they only take one Economics course before transferring, the credit is simply lost.

         Terra Davenport, MS, a Health and Human Performance professor and adviser at UTM realizes the problem. “The State needs to invest in developing a standardized course curriculum for its universities. There shouldn’t be such significant inconsistencies between schools whose diplomas all look the same. A business graduate from Martin should have taken the same classes as a business graduate from Knoxville. I always advise students who think they might transfer to plan ahead and only take courses that count at both schools. However, the problem with that is the equivalency tables are only comprehensive enough to allow them to do this for one or two semesters… [this is] a problem that costs many students extra semesters in college, and the State owes it to these kids to start working to fix the problem.” 

        The inconsistencies between campuses in the University of Tennessee system are definite obstacles for students.  While the admissions office realizes this dilemna, so far the only thing students can do is access the equivalency tables.

UTK Equivalency Tables

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