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May 23, 2013 7:53 am

EDITORIAL: Transfer to UW made easier

Written by Ilene Olson

New policy also encourages students to complete associate degrees

Every now and then, something comes along that makes so much sense that you wonder why no one thought of it sooner.

That’s the way we feel about a new policy that makes it easier for students who earn associate degrees at Wyoming’s community colleges to transfer to the University of Wyoming to complete their education.

Beginning this fall, students who earn associate degrees from any of the seven community colleges in the state will not be required to pay an application fee. They only will need to complete an admissions form and provide other necessary information to transfer to UW. The university will offer them counseling on academic requirements and financial aid, and provide additional transcript support.

The new policy expands higher education opportunities for Wyoming students and encourages them to complete their community college degrees. Combined with the Hathaway Scholarship program, the new policy provides more incentive for Wyoming students to complete their education in the Cowboy State.

This policy is proof of how far the university and the state’s community colleges have come since the inception of community colleges in Wyoming.

When Northwest Community College was established in 1946, it was viewed by many as a threat to the University of Wyoming. But, over time, and as the number of community colleges increased, the relationship between those institutions has become cooperative and symbiotic as they work toward the singular goal of providing a quality education for Wyoming students.

Still, some barriers existed. Chief among them was the difficulty some students had in transferring credits they earned at community colleges to UW. At last report, however, university and college leaders were working together to resolve many of those issues.

Until the past decade or so, another sticking point was the Wyoming Legislature’s reluctance to provide state funding for community college facilities as it does for building projects at the University of Wyoming.

With the recent development of a funding formula for community college capital construction projects, that issue too has been largely resolved. As a result, Northwest College broke ground last week for the Yellowstone Academic and Workforce Training Building on campus. About two thirds, or $9.38 million, of the $14.25 million cost for the facility will be paid for by state funding, with the remaining $5 million being raised locally.

Last week’s policy change allowing community college students who complete their associate degrees to transfer more easily to UW removes yet another barrier between the institutions.

It’s good to see Wyoming’s higher education institutions functioning more closely and cooperatively, and on more equal footing. That can only be good news for Wyoming students — and that, in turn, is good for Wyoming and its communities.

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