2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 37-2
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


HOUSEN, Bernard A., Geology Department, Western Washington University, 516 High St, Bellingham, WA 98225

Two year colleges are providing a larger number and proportion of incoming students to many public universities in Washington State. The emphasis on the role and importance of two year colleges at the state and national levels suggests that growth numbers of transfer students in four year universities should continue to increase. Thus, the successful transfer and quality of experience for transfer students will likely become increasingly important for geoscience programs.

Students transfer to WWU with a range of experience and preparation at time of admission. The most common degrees held by incoming transfer students to WWU are an Associate of Arts (and Science) degree (AA), an AA or AA&S with Direct Transfer Agreement (AA-DTA), or an Associate of Science- Transfer (AS-T). The AA-DTA is designed to fulfill all of a student’s general university (humanities, social sciences, arts, etc) coursework for graduation. The AS-T degree is specifically designed for transfer into science programs- these degrees require completion of Calculus I and II, as well as introductory sequences in chemistry, earth science, and physics. For the 2014-2015 WWU transfer admissions class, >90% of the incoming transfer students had either an AA or AA-DTA degree, and less than 5% had the AS-T degree.

Successful entry into the WWU Geology program is strongly influenced by the level of coursework students have had in mathematics at the time of initial registration. For those students who place into calculus or have transfer credits for calculus, a range of courses in the major (including supporting courses in chemistry, math, and physics) is immediately available. Students who transfer with this level of preparation typically finish the remainder of their degree in 2 years. Many students place into lower-level math- it is common for incoming transfer students to require 2-3 additional quarters of mathematics to pass into pre-calc II. Such students cannot take courses in the major or supporting sciences that have math prerequisites for most or all of their initial year at WWU- these students will often take 3-4 years to complete their BS degree. Given the importance of math preparation on time to degree more students should be advised to complete the AS-T degree, or at least pre-calc II before transferring to a four year college or university.