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Ohio State to draw community college students with new program

Ohio State is the first school in Columbus to join a network of schools mediating the transfer of community college students in a national honors program to four-year universities.

The program, American Honors, gives admitted community college students access to honors courses as well as specialized advising. Students who complete the two-year program receive an associate degree with honors as well as assistance transferring to a four-year university like OSU.

Chris Romer, president and co-founder of Quad Learning, the company that developed American Honors, said through the program, OSU can replicate the kind of articulation agreements it has with local community colleges like Columbus State.

“(It) allows OSU to get additional applicants from top students around the country,” Romer said.

The program is currently offered through Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and the Community Colleges of Spokane in Washington state. It is expanding to Mercer County Community College and Union County College, both in New Jersey, in Fall Semester 2014.

Dolan Evanovich, vice president for Strategic Enrollment Planning at Ohio State, said the program is a way to market to places “where we maybe haven’t had the resources to go to.”

While total tuition for students in the program costs about $3,000 per semester, including fees paid for the community college, Romer said the program doesn’t cost anything for the four-year partners like OSU.

American Honors first approached OSU last year to speak with some academic officials, Evanovich said, and the agreement was settled sometime before a press release announcing the partnership Dec. 13.

Wayne Carlson, vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education, referenced research that examines the difficulty of transferring from junior colleges, like those that offer American Honors courses, to four-year colleges or universities while figuring out the benefits for OSU from the partnership.

“Some four-year institutions would rather have first-year students coming in and going through their full four years at the institution, so they tend to not to admit as many students coming in through the community college process,” Carlson said. “That’s not been the case with Ohio State. We look holistically at a student’s application.”

But, Carlson said another issue was that community colleges courses are often not rigorous or well-taught enough to prepare a student to succeed in a four-year program.

For American Honors to work, Carlson said the program need schools to partner with so community college students won’t be negatively affected by attending a community college in spite of their honors work.

Russell Vannoy, an American Honors alumnus who now studies at Georgetown University and whose contact information was given to The Lantern by an American Honors representative, said American Honors courses are taught by professors at the community college, but class sizes are smaller and are usually set up as seminars as opposed to the large introductory lecture courses most community college students take.

American Honors also supplies an online classroom feature, allowing students to attend class from home.

Vannoy said although Georgetown was “picky” about the quality of his courses, his credits transferred and most lined up with requirements for his four-year degree in international affairs with help from his American Honors counselor.

Carlson said the terms of the agreement say American Honors courses will be created to match the curriculum at schools in the four-year network, like OSU. In the future, students like Vannoy who apply to OSU should not have issues matching their credits to degree requirements.

Some OSU students felt that graduates of the American Honors program should get full credit for their classes.

“If they’ve done the work, the same courses, then it really isn’t special consideration,” said Spencer Carli, a second-year in computer science and engineering.

Chris Lovekin, a fourth-year in plant health management, remembered his own issues transferring to OSU from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

“My general education credits, which I would have expected to transfer … barely (any of them) did,” Lovekin said. “I’m happy to see that more colleges are taking this as a serious issue, because I think they’re losing out on some very quality students by not helping them.”

Carlson agreed, calling American Honors a “win-win.”

“If students applying to Ohio State are better prepared as result of a program like this, we’re all for it,” Carlson said.

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