Nov. 5, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas — Glenda Ballard, associate vice president of Graduate and Professional Studies, is passionate about transfer students and the great things they can achieve when given the opportunity. 

Ballard’s own career stands as a role model for transfer student success.

The East Texas native began her academic career at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution where she attained a teaching degree and then a master’s degree in Counseling. She went on to receive her doctorate from Virginia Tech in Adult and Continuing Education. Ballard also worked as an educator in community colleges and public institutions before landing at St. Edward’s.

Her own personal start at a community college and experience in education is one reason why she set out a few years ago to lead the development of St. Edward’s University’s new Core Complete policy, which provides a seamless pathway for transfer students to St. Edward’s, ensuring that credits they’ve taken count toward their degree without a need for repeating courses.

“I have been a generalist in my career, but the one constant has been my passion for pathways for first-generation college students and, specifically, how the community college can facilitate that success in everyone’s journey,” Ballard said in an interview with The Higher Ed Geek Podcast.

Ballard was recently featured on The Higher Ed Geek Podcast discussing transfer policy, and she’s written an op-ed on the subject, both are highlighted on this page.

Transfer Students Now Have a Seamless Path to a Private University  

By Glenda Ballard,
Associate Vice President of Graduate and Professional Studies
St. Edward’s University

When Emmett Mushock decided to transfer from Austin Community College to St. Edward’s University to pursue a major in communications, he worried that he might have to retake basic courses.

But, beginning this fall, transfer students who matriculate into St. Edward’s University as “core complete” under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Texas Core Curriculum will not be expected to take any additional lower division coursework to satisfy the general education of the university. Instead, students may focus on completing the four-year degree by taking degree-required courses for their majors only. This enables  them to complete a St. Edward’s degree in a timely manner. 

“As a third-year transfer student from ACC, I think that St. Edward's is acting in the best interest of students like myself by accepting the core complete general education courses, without the need for a repeat,” Mushock said. “Now, I get to study what I’m most passionate about.” 

To our knowledge, St. Edward’s is the first private university in Texas to adopt a full ‘transfer-friendly’ policy. When students transfer schools, they often lose credits and as a result, take longer to complete their degrees. Many don’t end up graduating at all. With this move, we are embracing the belief that Texas community college students bring two years of college credit toward their degrees in any given year.

Much of this decision emanates from the change in the traditional college freshman. In the past, a student graduated from high school, moved to a college of their choosing, and embraced that school’s curriculum for a four-year degree. More and more, recruiters from private institutions are hearing, “How many of my college hours will you accept?” Or, “If I graduate with a two-year associate’s degree from my local community college, can I be sure that I will only have to take coursework toward my major to graduate?”  

For students who would excel at a small, private institution but felt restricted because of cost or time, this decision provides a way for them to maximize their investment.  

“Hats off to this decision to accept Texas community college students who complete the core curriculum as having completed the university’s general education requirements,” said Charles M. Cook, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Austin Community College District. “This has the potential to motivate more students to complete a baccalaureate degree. It’s a win-win for students and the state.”

According to a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 2019 update, only 35% of students who start at a Texas community college transfer to a university within six years. THECB also reports that those students who do transfer complete their degrees at a rate that is 17 percentage points lower than the students who start at the same institution in their cohort.

That’s where private universities come in. Private liberal arts colleges offer support services, small class size and mission-based curriculum — all things that research shows can make a difference in whether a student is successful and graduates from college. Because of this new core complete policy, students can now access the private university model in a way they potentially couldn’t before.


The Higher Ed Geek Podcast

Glenda Ballard, associate vice president of Graduate and Professional Studies, chatted with The Higher Ed Geek Podcast's Dustin Ramsdell about St. Edward's new transfer policy and what it means for transfer students in the podcast's BONUS Episode #108: Dr. Glenda Ballard on Seamless Transfer Policies.