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Home / News and Information / News - June 2006 / Sandra Clay to have article published in respected Journal

Sandra Clay to have article published in respected Journal

Request grew out of session presented by BPC Registrar

Taylor Hereford
BPC Director of Marketing

Sandra Clay has known for a while that a certain issue in her profession – the transfer of credit from non-accredited institutions – needed answers. The problem was that all she had were questions and knew the chances were good that the answers were eluding her colleagues as well.

She presented her questions during a session of the Southern Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers (SACRAO) Conference this past February in Lexington, Kentucky. As a result, Clay has been asked to develop the content of her session into an article for the respected SACRAO Journal. SACRAO is the regional branch of the national professional organization which serves the 13 southeastern states bordered on the west by Texas and Oklahoma and on the north by Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia. The branch also includes Puerto Rico.

“To be asked is gratifying and humbling, and I have agreed to do it,” said Clay. “In no way am I an expert on this issue. This (writing an article for publication) seems like something other people do.”

According to Clay, a student who transfers from a non-accredited institution to an institution which has been accredited by a regional accreditation agency normally loses all of their prior credit in the transfer. Thus, someone coming to Brewton-Parker College – which is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the awarding of Associate and Bachelor degrees – would have to begin as an entering freshman regardless of the academic level he or she might have already attained at the non-regionally accredited institution.

“Being accredited by a regional accreditation agency is a valued credential in higher education,” Clay said. “This means the agency has reviewed your day to day operations and affirmed you meet at least the minimum criteria set by the agency for your type of institution.”

There is, among tertiary institutions, a groundswell of interest in the issue of credit transferability. This has been prompted by two fairly recent, but growing trends that are distinct, yet related.

The first trend is the proliferation of non-traditional education, whether because the school itself is non-traditional (for profit; completely online without any visible campus, hybrid institution with technical, academic, and community learning components interwoven) or because the delivery method or assignation of credit do not follow this country’s established patterns.

“It isn’t just the number of non-traditional schools,” said Clay. “It’s the new educational environment in which the old patterns of education are being stretched, changed, and challenged. It’s forcing all of us to reassess our definition of what constitutes acceptable learning and credit.”

The second trend is the increasing political interest in this issue. This is causing concern among all levels of accredited institutional structure, beginning at the top with the president of the college or university.

Several recent congressional initiatives have proposed tying federal funds to less restrictive credit transfer policies. There has also been political discussion of replacing regional accrediting agencies with a federal agency. Both of these initiatives, while not yet strong enough to change the status quo, have caused the professional community at large to begin rethinking old assumptions. No one wants to face federally-mandated changes unprepared.

According to Clay, there’s a delicate balance between the needs of the student and the needs of the accredited institution that must be created and maintained. The need for this balance will be the focus of Clay’s upcoming article.

“My main focus will be how a regionally accredited institution evaluates prior learning and credit from a non-regionally accredited institution in a way that’s fair to the student and maintains the academic integrity of the receiving institution,” Clay said.

Once again, Clay knows she doesn’t have all of the answers to this issue, but would like to use the article as a means of keeping the discussion going.

“This article will focus not necessarily on giving answers as much as establishing definitive questions colleges need to be asking,” said Clay.

Mr. Tim Culhan, Registrar at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, believes that by developing her session content into a journal article, the SACRAO membership will benefit greatly from Clay’s experience in dealing with this issue.

“Her session was highly rated by those who attended and I’m sure our larger (SACRAO) membership would benefit from an article by her on this subject,” said Culhan.


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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
Brewton-Parker College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brewton-Parker College.
Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM