Dual admission program makes tranition from community college to WIU smoother

Danny Davis

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Last spring WIU President Donald Spencer and Spoon River College President Keith Miller signed the agreement that allows students to be admitted to both schools and to be eligible for student services provided in each college and university. It is called the Dual Admission program and the program now reaches across the state. Currently there are 148 students in the dual-admission program. With an assortment of different colleges, including Black Hawk College, Carl Sandburg College, Spoon River, Rock Valley College, Sauk Valley Community College, the program has the potential to spread all over the state. This program is not new. Currently it is a popular way that community colleges and major universities communicate with each other. The trend is moving westward and is finally hitting the Midwest. In Illinois, WIU is the first university to establish this program.

“This program initiated in the Quad Cities. It is common out east for the community colleges and the universities to have joint programs. We are the first in Illinois schools to have this kind of program. It is basic for community colleges and the universities not to compete, but rather work together,” Nancy Altenbern, admissions and records officer, said.

Spoon River, one of the current schools offering the dual-admission program, has 34 students enrolled. The agreement enables students to reside in WIU residential facilities and utilize other campus services such as Beu Health Center. Students in the program at Spoon River must meet Spoon River admission standards and must have their financial aid handled through the community college. When students register at WIU, the financial aid and advising records will be handled by WIU faculty and support staff.

“WIU and Spoon River have an excellent working relationship,” Spencer stated in a press release. “Enrollment in the dual-admission program is an example of how well our institutions cooperate and encourage students to complete an associate’s degree as they work toward a bachelor’s degree.”

Started this spring, the dual-admission program was introduced to the students of WIU and surrounding colleges. Now the program is doing so well that colleges are calling WIU.

“It’s a very positive program. Everyone we talk to has been very excited. It’s not a hard program to sell. The community colleges are calling us,” Altenbern said. “It’s really a twofold benefit; WIU and community colleges are getting good recruiting and it encourages students to come to colleges.”

To get into the program, students need transcripts from their former schools which are then submitted to community colleges for acceptance. The students’ transcripts would be handled by the community college until the students attend WIU. If the students decide to drop out or come to the university sooner, they will be treated as regular transfer students.

“What we want is a seamless transition between the community colleges and the university. It takes out all the mystery out of what takes place at a community college and transferring to a university,” Karen Helmers, director of admissions, said. With 20 colleges currently in the process of signing the dual-admissions program into effect, the future of the program is encompassing more colleges within the state.

Altenbern said that the policy is in the process of being signed. All that needs to be done now is have little details worked out. “I see it growing because we’re providing advising to students from the community colleges to the university. We’re making the transition for students of community colleges to WIU. They won’t need any of the extra stuff.

We want to make it as smooth as possible,” Altenbern said. Currently there is a World Wide Web page for students to see other community college programs. The students can access a school’s page if the school is signed onto a program at WIU. ps sf