Editorial: Tufts should revamp its credit transfer system to prioritize equity, transparency

Cartoon by Valeria Velasquez

Yesterday we discussed the deficits within the distribution requirement system, drawing attention to its rigid, inhibitory nature that prevents students from pursuing passions in depth. This exhaustive requirement, coupled with the clear difficulties in the pre-matriculation credit process, affects Tufts transfer students in particular. Transfer students who are already challenged with the college adjustment process must also navigate the arduous process of credit transfer. With less time and resources than their non-transfer peers, some transfer students experience significantly more pressure to finish their distribution and major requirements, and they may lack the opportunity to explore disciplines outside their major. In order to minimize the stress of the transfer process and champion equal opportunity across its student body, Tufts should increase the powers of its advisors and standardize its credit transfer system. 

Transferring schools is a long, bureaucratic process in all of its stages. From the application stage to finally arriving at an unknown campus, the transfer process is ridden with uncertainty and stress. After students receive their acceptances in mid-May, they must complete an entirely new orientation, enroll in Tufts classes and familiarize themselves with systems such as SIS and Office Outlook. On top of these unfamiliarities, students must also engage in the inconsistent, tedious process of requesting credit transfers for all classes, both from their high schools and previous institutions. Waiting for approval of credit transfer can take months, causing extreme uncertainty about the process’s outcome and consuming a significant portion of students’ time at Tufts. Thus, the question of whether Tufts will accept credits leaves many transfer students unaware of their progress toward graduation and unsure if their credits will count toward their major, putting them under much stress and at a significant disadvantage when compared to their peers.

Unfortunately, one of the only resources Tufts provides for its transfer students proves inadequate and fails to sufficiently aid in this complicated process; the designated advising deans and pre-major advisors work with so many students that they lack the time to effectively keep track, manage and aid in processing students’ course credits. Max Neve, a sophomore transfer student, told the Daily of his negative experience with his pre-major advisor. 

“I didn’t have the best of experiences with my pre-major advisor,”  Neve said. “She was super busy, had a lot on her plate and throwing another student on that wasn’t helpful.”

While advisers aim to proactively submit credit requests and exempt students from distribution requirements, the busyness of advisors counteracts this positive intention, leaving transfer students to navigate the extensive, confusing process alone.

Transfer students face major setbacks in their college career as a result of this ineffective process and Tufts’ rejection of credits. Eli Halbreich, a sophomore who transferred from a community college, told the Daily that he lost a year’s worth of semester-hour units after Tufts rejected his credit transfer. 

“When I was at community college, I was working as well, so I took online classes,” Halbreich said. “Nowhere in the Tufts materials did they say they would not accept online credits.”

However, Tufts did not accept 33 out of his 60 requested credits.

Senior Madison Clay similarly experienced the hardship associated with Tufts’ transfer process, which rejected some classes that could have counted toward her major.

“I had already worked through two of my major classes and then had to redo them all over again,” Clay said.

Rejected credits, like Halbreich’s and Clay’s, could have fulfilled distribution requirements or helped complete majors in less time, allowing transfer students room in their schedules to complete a secondary major or minor, pursue interests in greater depth or simply enroll in exciting just-for-fun courses. Ultimately, this system unfairly limits the scope and opportunity of a transfer student’s education, thus becoming an issue of equity and effectiveness.

Further, Tufts should provide greater resources to transfer students and standardize the credit system, ensuring the university’s transparency and allocation of deserved credits. In order to ensure quick credit transfer and readily available advising, Tufts should hire additional advising deans and increase the number of pre-major advisors to aid in the credit transfer process and adjustment to Tufts’ academic life. To further serve these goals and streamline the transfer process, the administration should also create an online database that includes course titles and descriptions of previously transferred credits, allowing for more transparency about course overlap and eliminating the extra step of having departments approve credit requests.

In this form, Tufts could calm the stress of an inherently overwhelming time and ensure the academic equity of all Tufts students regardless of matriculation year. Only then can Tufts claim to fully recognize the positive contributions of its student body and treat its transfer and non-transfer students as one and the same.