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Midwest Coalition of States Proposes College Credit Bank

According to the Chicago Tribune and several other news sources today, a dozen Midwestern states are studying the creation of a college-credit exchange that could make it easier for college dropouts to finally complete their degrees.

The project would create an electronic database where people could post documentation about the college credits they have earned from various institutions, their work training and other relevant educational experiences.

The frustration over credit transfer has become a major issue for community college students, whether graduates or dropouts when they seek enrollment in a four year college. Currently, faculty members have a lot to say about the legitimacy of transfer credits. You would think that core courses for accounting degrees or the requirements for an electronics technician program would be fairly standard at the associates' degree level, but that has not proven to be the case for thousands of returning students.

Colleges and universities then essentially would bid for the opportunity to enroll those students by indicating how many credits they would accept, what additional courses would be needed to complete their degrees and how much it would cost. In order for this to work, much of the additional coursework would require that online degree technology be in place and fully operational.

"This would be a one-stop shop where persons from throughout the 12-state region could deposit their credits," Larry Isaak, president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, says. Institutions then would "see if they have programs that might match in helping those students finish a certificate or associate or bachelor's degree."

The Midwestern coalition is composed of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The research is being financed by a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It's a great concept, but standardization of the "education modules" required for a university degree is the last thing that many schools, especially public land-grant universities, want to see. "Brand value" is the newest buzzword in the academic lexicon. Distance learning schools are far more responsive to the credit transfer issue than traditional universities, and that applies for outgoing as well as incoming students. That's one of the important aspects of accreditation, a status that has become mandatory for today's online academies.

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