August 3, 2009
Admission to State's Colleges, Universities 'Guaranteed'
Charlottesville, VA - Imagine a routine and less stressful admission to a four-year college or university in Virginia and saving thousands of dollars toward the expense of a bachelor's degree. It's completely possible, as Emily Traylor and her family of Fluvanna County can attest.
This fall, Traylor will enter the University of Virginia as a third-year student pursuing a bachelor's degree in Spanish. Her admission to U.Va. was automatic because she graduated in May with a transfer associate degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College and met all academic requirements of an agreement between the university and PVCC that guaranteed her admission.
The savings of more than $10,000 resulted from completing the first two years of her bachelor's degree at PVCC while living at home with her parents, Ralph and Brenda Traylor of Troy. PVCC tuition and fees are roughly one-third that of four-year colleges and universities in Virginia.
Using the guaranteed admission transfer process "really takes the stress off," said Traylor. "As long as I followed and met the requirements, I didn't have to keep worrying constantly about whether I would be accepted at U.Va."
Along with U.Va.'s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering, dozens of colleges and universities have signed guaranteed admission agreements with PVCC, among them, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University and Mary Baldwin College.
Under these arrangements, community college students must earn a transfer degree - an associate of arts or science - while maintaining a minimum grade-point average, achieving a grade of "C' or higher in required classes and earning a certain number of total credits. The specific academic requirements differ with each institution's guaranteed admission agreement.
On Thursday, Aug. 6, PVCC will offer a free workshop about guaranteed admission and other transfer opportunities available at the College. The workshop runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Technology Wing in the Main Building on PVCC's campus at 501 College Drive in Charlottesville. Workshop registration is online at www.pvcc.edu/workshop or call 434.961.6551.
To use the guaranteed admission agreement, Traylor had to keep track of the classes she took at PVCC. "I mapped out my semesters," she explained, "and planned the math and science requirements and other classes [required by U.Va.] that I had to fulfill to be sure I had them all, and I aimed for the highest grades I could. I also got help from PVCC's transfer counselor who knows what the transfer requirements are."
Nearly twice as many students graduated from PVCC in May with a transfer associate degree in liberal arts than in the previous academic year. "We believe that this increase was fueled by the popularity of guaranteed admissions agreements," said PVCC President Frank Friedman, "and we anticipate that more students will take advantage of guaranteed admissions in the future as families learn how these agreements make higher education more accessible and affordable."
"There are benefits to spending the first two years at a community college," Traylor's father confirmed. "A student can acclimate into the higher educational system without as much stress with academics or with being away from home for the first time… It's less expensive and saves on the overall cost of education."
A full-time in-state student taking 15 credits at PVCC will pay $2,861 in tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 academic year compared to $8,198 at Virginia Tech, $9,300 at U.Va. or $31,175 at Washington and Lee University. For quick comparisons of tuition and fees at PVCC and other private and public four-year colleges and universities in Virginia, visit www.vawizard.org.
This was not the first community college experience for the Traylors. The father graduated from Central Virginia Community College and transferred to Liberty University to complete a business administration degree. "That was a great plan, I thought, and Emily's brother, Steven, went to PVCC and transferred to U.Va. as well. We have history with that process," her father explained. Steven graduated from U.Va. in 2008 and is now working on a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware.
"Community college is a great place [for students] to begin and to grow as a person and realize their potential for academics so that when they do go to a four-year school, they don't miss a beat. Their stride is already set," Mrs. Traylor added.
Her daughter agreed. "If I had tried to go straight from high school to U.Va., I doubt that I would have gotten in. I had the grades but not the extracurricular activities. It's very competitive. If I had gotten in, I don't think I would have been able to handle the academic pressure. I don't think I was ready for it."
But she more than readied herself while at PVCC where Traylor was vice president of the PVCC Student Government Association, a tutor in PVCC's Learning Center and president of the PVCC Music Club. Based on her academic performance and leadership, she was selected as the College's Most Distinguished Student in 2009, was one of the top 10 community college students in Virginia and named to the Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team. The award is sponsored annually by USA TODAY, the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the national honor society for two-year colleges.