The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 30, 2014

Pierpont students can transfer to WVU program

Outreach to help them finish their bachelor’s degree

FAIRMONT — Pierpont Community & Technical College signed an articulation agreement with West Virginia University that allows students to seamlessly go from Pierpont into an online degree at WVU.

Pierpont President Dr. Doreen Larson and WVU University College’s Associate Provost and Dean Dr. Elizabeth Dooley signed the agreement March 24, which allows students to complete an associate’s degree in liberal studies at Pierpont and then transfer to WVU to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies.

“One of the things that we’re trying to achieve with this degree program is to provide students with as many options as possible to earn both an associate’s degree and then also continue on with a bachelor’s degree,” said Jennifer Weist, associate vice president of student services at Pierpont.

Pierpont worked with WVU’s Office of Admissions and School of Extended and Online Learning to put together a clear plan of study. Credits earned at Pierpont will directly transfer over as WVU course equivalents and will take the place of the university’s General Education Curriculum requirements.

This process enables students to begin the Multidisciplinary Studies program as if they were a junior at WVU, Weist said.

“We’ve made a commitment that we will continually look at and evaluate new courses that come along to see if they’re appropriate for transfer. I think it’s very good because it makes it clear for students what they get. If they do this, this is what it’s equal to,” said Weist.

“That takes a lot of the guess work out, and for students transferring, sometimes that’s very stressful because they want to be guaranteed the work that they’re doing now counts towards what their end goal is.”

West Virginia University’s multidisciplinary studies degree allows students to choose three related minors instead of one major. The university offers 18 online minors that vary from strategic social media to history to forensic and investigative sciences.

“The nice thing about their program is that it’s offered completely online,” Weist said. “Because it’s multidisciplinary studies, it gives students the flexibility to tailor the degree program to meet their personal and professional goals.”

West Virginia University works with all community colleges in the state on similar programs.

“It’s part of our land-grant mission here, to help raise the college-going rate of West Virginia residents,” said Lynn Reinke, director of communications for WVU Academic Innovation.

“There are a lot of adults in our state who can’t get to a main campus like ours, so this is a great way to get them to start in their local communities.”

For Pierpont, this program allows students more opportunities from the institution, Weist said, and she hopes the agreement will help the college grow in student population whose goal is transfer education.

“For a lot of our programs, they’re really focused on work place outcomes. ... But part of our mission is to prepare students for transfer credit,” she said.

“This gives students another option and a clearly defined pathway to a program at West Virginia University. It highlights for students that community college is s good first step for them to consider. ... Community college doesn’t have to be the end. It can be that first step toward a larger educational goal.”

For WVU, the agreement with Pierpont and other community colleges helps adult students reach their goals and go on to further contribute to the state, Reinke said.

“The main thing here is we’re just trying to reach out to adults to help them finish their bachelor’s degree, because West Virginia has one of the lowest rates of adults who have completed a bachelor’s degree,” she said.

“As a state, we really need that for economic development, so we’re really excited we get to work with the community colleges this way because they do a good job of preparing the students.”

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.

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