Administrators of The University of Texas-Pan American recently met with Laredo Community College (LCC) officials to sign a dual admissions agreement that allows LCC students to transfer to UTPA without losing credits and affords them a practical option to a four-year institution.
"The entire process from introduction to signing took about a year and a half," said Sam Diaz, assistant director in New Student and Visitor Services at UTPA. "It was a combination of coordinating schedules and keeping the two institutions talking."
Diaz, an integral organizer of the agreement, said in the past, some two-year community colleges have been hesitant to make agreements with larger four-year institutions believing such arrangements may reduce the number of students at their campuses and give a competitive edge to a university, but as Diaz pointed out, that's not actually the case.
"The notion that there will be a loss of students at the community college is usually the held belief when no agreement is in place. Actually, what UTPA is saying is that we will provide a scholarship to any qualifying LCC student once they get their Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree from LCC. They must have that degree in order to qualify for the scholarship with us. That's the hook," Diaz said.
Diaz indicated that there is evidence of higher retention rates among transfer students when they hold an A.A. or A.S. degree. A higher retention rate directly addresses one of many University goals. UTPA is not interested in losing students once they've entered and it's in the University's best interest to enroll students that have a proven academic record said Diaz.
LCC students with those degrees can now carry on with their degree and obtain a bachelor's degree. The agreement provides students with a structured curriculum through all eight semesters and across two campuses.
"Students get their first four semesters at LCC and then transfer here and get their last four semesters with us. Their required courses are clearly outlined for them and this minimizes confusion after they transfer," Diaz said. UTPA administrators present at the signing were Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez, president, Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services and Diaz. Attending from LCC were Dr. Ramon H. Dovalina, president and Dr. Juan L. Maldonado, vice president for Instruction and Student Development from LCC. Edwards said he hopes the agreement will encourage more students from the Laredo area to come here.
"Laredo students can obtain a four-year degree while taking their first two years close to home. The agreement makes an easier transition once they are ready to come to us," Edwards said, citing the benefits of the agreement. "The agreement has also provided UTPA with a greater outreach to Laredo students that will ultimately provide more diversity on our campus as students from that area come here."
Presently, there are five LCC transfer students currently enrolled at UTPA. With this new agreement in place, it's only a matter of time before the numbers go up.
For more information contact UTPA's New Student and Visitors Services at 381-2925 or the LCC campus at 721-5101.