The number of Ithaca College students entering college with transfer credits from high school is increasing. With these credits, some students have the ability to graduate early, but many still choose to utilize their four years.
According to former registrar Brian Scholten, the number of accepted students who already have college credits is rising. Scholten could not give the actual data but said more than 50 percent of students come in with credit. Scholten left the registrar’s position March 16 and was replaced by Danette Johnson as interim registrar.
Many high schools offer classes that allow students to earn college credits. These classes can include Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual-enrollment classes. IB classes are similar to AP classes in that they offer a rigorous curriculum for high school students but with an international emphasis. Dual-enrollment credits are college credits that one earns through a local college while still in high school.
Over the past three years, approximately 21 percent of incoming freshmen came in with either AP or dual-enrollment credit that counted for Academic Writing I. According to the Office of the Registrar, of the 1,808 freshmen who entered the college this year, 362 of them do not need to take Academic Writing I because of their transfer credits.
Johnson did not have data on the average number of credits incoming freshmen transfer into the college.
Even though students can transfer credit to the college easily, according to students and the registrar’s office, none of these credits can count as the perspective classes that are required by the Integrative Core Curriculum. ICC themes are areas of study that students choose as their focus when taking perspective courses. Perspective classes are required courses in the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities and creative arts that are supposed to address the issues surrounding the theme.
Freshman Megan Holman said she wished that the college-level classes she took while in high school counted toward her ICC perspectives.
“I wish that that could’ve been done so that I would’ve had more freedom to do other things,” Holman said. “People ask me if I want to graduate early, and I don’t see how I could. Between taking those classes and finish classes for my major, I don’t see how I could graduate early.”
However, on occasion, some students entering college with upward of 30 credits anticipate early graduation. Sophomore Riley Ludwig plans to graduate a semester early thanks to the 30 credits she entered college with.
“This is only my fourth semester on campus, but I’m already a second–semester junior,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig also has the ability to balance a major and minor — television-radio and journalism, respectively — that are both in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. This is normally difficult because Park School students are required to have 60 credits inside the Park School and 60 credits outside the school.
On the other hand, Johnson said most students who bring in credit end up spending the full four years in college.
“The majority of students who come in with credit do other kinds of things,” Johnson said. “They use the flexibility provided by those credits to do a second major or spend a semester in New York and LA, those kinds of things.”
This trend is also reflected nationally. A 2015 study by two scholars at the College Board, the organization that administers AP tests, found that granting more early college credit to high school students helps students graduate in four years, where without that credit, most students could spend more than four years in college.
The researchers found in an analysis of AP test score outcomes for 4.5 million students that students who obtained high scores on AP exams were more likely to graduate from college in four years only if their colleges gave them credit for these exams.
Freshman Sara Belcher entered college with 44 credits but still plans on spending the full four years here.
“I’m going to use the time and space I cleared up to do two minors, so I’m getting more out of my time here,” Belcher said.
Even though Ludwig’s transfer credits did not count toward her ICC requirements, she still said she thinks it was worthwhile that she came to the college with credits.
“I think it is definitely worth it to come in with credit, especially depending on your financial situation,” Ludwig said. “It can allow you to graduate early if that’s something that you can do to save some money.”