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Majors Taking Classes at Community Colleges

May 10, 2011

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

As tuition rises at state and private universities, some of our majors are opting to take required reporting classes at community colleges. We’ve been accepting those credits, perhaps in some cases because our alumni are teaching at those two-year institutions.

Today I was informed by my staff that we may have to cancel one of our reporting sections because it is under-enrolled. “That’s strange,” I said. “We almost always have to open up new sections. What has changed?”

Then I was informed that some of our students are taking reporting at community colleges that (a) have no articulation agreement with us, (b) schedule classes with fewer hours than ours, and (c) offer cheaper tuition for the same number of credits.

So today I’m tackling the issue, hoping that our Curriculum Committee looks into this with some strict guidelines concerning this practice.

It’s important for our reputation. The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication is among the first cohort of programs accredited in 1948 by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. We believe in accreditation to such extent that we strive to hold ourselves higher than the prevailing ACEJMC curricular standards.

What this means, simply, is that our School should not accept transfer credit for a core required class unless that class was offered by another accredited journalism program. I’m open to formal articulation agreements with non-accredited programs, as long as we monitor those programs each year and ensure that classes offered through them meet for the same number of hours and cover the same content as in our School.

This may call for formal assessment measures—not just a perfunctory look at the syllabus and word-of-mouth about the teacher’s ability or alma mater.

At the very least, if a program is non-accredited and if no articulation agreement exists, then students who take required classes at community colleges should pass a standardized test or assignment on content—administered by our faculty—before their credits officially transfer

Has this been an issue at your program? If so, please share your thoughts.

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