MALTA – When Grace Martin decided to pursue a degree in journalism, she didn’t want to spend any more time at Kishwaukee College earning an associate degree.
So after three years at the college, she made the jump this year to Northern Illinois University. But as the 21-year-old Byron resident started applying for jobs, she realized the time she spent at Kishwaukee only amounted to a partial college education. Three-classes shy of a degree, she had no credentials.
“I realized I really missed out on not getting a college degree,” she said. “I had done all that work, but it didn’t add up to anything.”
Thanks to an agreement signed Friday, Martin and students like her will be able to earn their associate’s degree while continuing at NIU.
Northern Illinois University President Douglas Baker and Kishwaukee College President Tom Choice signed a reverse transfer agreement Friday that will allow eligible NIU students who transfer from Kishwaukee without an associate degree to earn the two-year degree using credit from NIU courses.
Of the 230 students who transferred from Kishwaukee to NIU last year, more than 100 transferred without a degree, according to Sedgwick Harris, Kishwaukee’s vice president of student services.
“This agreement is for those students,” Harris said Friday during the signing ceremony at Kishwaukee’s Malta campus. “This tangible link is a way for students to have the best of both worlds.”
Students who transfer with at least 37 credit hours from Kishwaukee will be able to take advantage of the agreement. NIU’s director of records and registration Jerry Montag said the university will start notifying students in the coming weeks that their NIU transcripts can be sent to Kishwaukee to be evaluated.
Baker called the agreement “game-changing.”
It has been in the works for a little more than six months.
“There has not been a way for students to do this until now,” Baker said. “This partnership breaks down barriers to provide a seamless way for students to receive credit for work they’ve done.”
Around 300 students are dually enrolled at the college and the university, Choice said.
“The bottom line is that we share students and our most basic mission is to provide quality education for those students,” Choice said. “The reverse transfer agreement will allow more of the students we share the opportunity to strive for success and, more importantly, achieve it.”
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon also spoke during the ceremony, calling the agreement an obvious step in the right direction for the benefit of students and the state of Illinois.
“When students leave college with credits but no credentials, they are less prepared for the workforce,” Simon said. “This reverse transfer agreement should be implemented at campuses across the state.”
Martin is in her first year at NIU and plans to leave with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in a few years. Until then, because of the reverse transfer agreement, she’ll be able to show employers – and herself – that she accomplished something in her time at Kishwaukee.
“When I apply for jobs this summer, I will be able to have that degree on my résumé,” Martin said.