McALLEN, RGV – South Texas College and Our Lady of the Lake University have signed an agreement that officials believe will expand educational opportunities for thousands of students of the Valley.

On January 9, representatives of STC and OLLU, including the presidents of both campuses, gathered in McAllen to sign an articulation agreement between the two institutions, marking the beginning of the schools’ academic affiliation.

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The agreement creates an educational partnership between both institutions that will allow students to transfer between schools with ease. One of the primary purposes of the agreement is to provide STC students with a seamless experience in transferring to OLLU, said Dr. Shirley Reed, president of STC. “We want our students, when they finish South Texas College, to go on and finish their Bachelor’s degree without having to repeat courses or take more courses, so that those hours are accepted.”

According to the articulation agreement, “Courses on the specific transfer articulation degree plans earned at STC with grades of ‘C’ or above will transfer to OLLU.” This provides a predetermined academic path for students of STC that will facilitate the transfer process to OLLU. Students that follow and meet the criteria of the “articulation degree plans” will be eligible to transfer and receive full credit for their studies. Even though the agreement encourages students to complete their associate degree prior to transferring to OLLU, students of STC don’t have to and can transfer a maximum of 72 hours.

In addition to transfer degree plans, the articulation agreement described a reverse transfer procedure. According to agreement, “’Reverse Transfer’ allows students to transfer coursework from OLLU back to STC to complete requirements for the associate degree. This program is specifically designed to allow students to receive advantages pursuant to completion of the associate degree when they leave STC prior to degree completion. OLLU and STC will develop a reverse transfer process to provide students with the opportunity to complete the associate’s degree while working on their OLLU bachelor’s degree.”

Students who decide to participate in this program will experience education in a campus of 31,000 students (STC) and of 3,100 (OLLU). They will experience different classroom setting and instruction. They will be submerged in a culture very different from the Valley and will live in a different part of Texas. However while differences may exist, Sister Jane Slater, president of OLLU, believes students of both institutions have something in common.

“Our students mirror students of South Texas College. One of them, I think, is that they are first generation college students. In graduation, our board always tears up when we ask those students who are the first in their families to graduate from college, and two thirds to three fourths stand up. We are about education. We are about providing that opportunity that only education can provide by giving options and make a difference in the world in ways that you just can’t without education.”