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SOU eases transfers from Umpqua C.C.

Southern Oregon University is inking a deal with Umpqua Community College in Roseburg in two weeks that will allow UCC students to "co-enroll" as SOU students.

That means when they're ready to become juniors, they can be certain all their credits will count toward a bachelor's degree at SOU.

SOU has had "articulation" agreements with Rogue Community College and other schools, assuring a "seamless" transition to the four-year college academically — but also assuring that financial aid programs in place at one school apply to the other school as well, said Peg Blake, SOU's dean of enrollment management.

"We're strengthening ties with our primary feeder colleges that allow students to go back and forth. Students are jointly enrolled at both institutions, so it's easier, more accessible and simpler to progress toward a bachelor's degree," said Blake.

UCC is a half-hour closer to the University of Oregon in Eugene than it is to SOU, so more students head north for upper-division work. However, many UCC students seek degrees in criminology, business and early childhood education at SOU — and preparatory programs in these areas will allow UCC students to enroll at SOU as juniors, said Javier Ayala, UCC director of instruction and curriculum.

"It means both institutions will be a home for our students and they will be able to transfer to bachelor's work without it being such a stretch," he said.

SOU will sign a memorandum of agreement on the co-enrollment with UCC on May 23 and in coming months will seek to make such agreements with all the community colleges in southwestern Oregon, said Blake.

SOU has articulation agreements with nearby College of the Siskiyous, College of the Redwoods and Shasta College in Northern California that allow those students to transfer credits to SOU and pay in-state tuition, said Blake.

UCC has forged agreements with Eastern Oregon University in La Grande that permit UCC students to take their junior and senior years entirely online, and Blake said SOU is working toward the distance-learning goal this year with all its feeder community colleges in southwestern Oregon.

"These articulation agreements spell out a path that makes it easier for students to reach their goal. It says: if you follow these laid-out courses, then SOU is going to count your courses and help you get out the door with your degree," said Blake.

She added that the agreements should increase SOU's enrollment (long stationary at just below 5,000), and the school seeks to eliminate the experience where "students frequently start at a two-year college and transfer, then find some courses are not applicable. It's frustrating because they've spent a lot of time and money."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.