When you decided to attend a two-year school, you might have already known that you would transfer to the college of your dreams. Or maybe you started your post-high school career at a community college because you weren’t quite sure where you wanted to go or what you wanted to do. Either way, the decision is upon you – your transfer is just around the corner!
Regardless of the “why” you are going to transfer, the “how” is what matters most. Have you been taking the right courses? Will your credits transfer? Will you be able to graduate on time? How will you fit in at your new school?
If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’re not alone. Just ask Pia LoRusso, a sociology major at SUNY Brockport (www.brockport.edu) who was unsure of where to go as well as what a transfer would really mean for her. LoRusso attended Monroe Community College (www.mcc.edu) right out of high school with plans to transfer directly into a two-plus-two program, but things didn’t go quite as planned.
“I just wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do,” explains LoRusso, “so instead of continuing on with my education, I took some time off and put my associate’s degree to work.” LoRusso spent a few years in a couple of different jobs but quickly realized she needed — and wanted — to go back to school. “I thought I would have to go back to MCC for some classes before I could transfer since it had been a couple of years, but that wasn’t the case. They were so helpful and very supportive.”
With the guidance of an advisor at her community college, LoRusso visited SUNY Brockport and it was there that she was not only encouraged, but was able to transfer all of her credits and enroll quickly and easily as a transfer student. “I couldn’t be happier with my decision,” LoRusso says.
Your transfer process can be smooth, too! Follow these helpful tips and your transfer is likely to be a positive one.
It’s never too early to think about your future.
It is critical to begin thinking about where you might like to transfer as soon as your first semester of your first year of college. That may sound early, but the college years truly do fly by and you will be ready to transfer before you know it.
Courtney Pearsall, a student who transferred to Seton Hall University (www.shu.edu) from Finger Lakes Community College (www.flcc.edu), explains that she “focused on what type of school I wanted and the location and environment of the school” as she prepared to transfer. “Ultimately, I chose to go to school close to New York City because of the lively nature of the surrounding community,” says Pearsall. Seton Hall is only 14 miles outside of the city.
Try to start making decisions early and often when it comes to searching for schools by exploring locations, possible majors and looking into potential careers. (Even if you change your mind, like LoRusso, you are better off having a goal and working toward it than not thinking about what you might like to do.)
Get the basics under your belt.
It’s no secret that every college education begins with a few foundational courses that every student must master before completing their degree. These areas of study include liberal arts classes like basic college-level math, science, English and social sciences. Beginning your college career at a two-year school is a great way to complete these classes while saving money and figuring out what you really want to be when you grow up.
Experience independence in small doses.
Going away to college can be a major shock to the fresh-out-of-high school student’s system. That is why attending a two-year school close to home can provide a smooth transition from adolescence to young adulthood. While college classes require a certain level of self-discipline and increased responsibility, it may be helpful to have the help and guidance of your parents and/or family and friends to keep you on track as you begin your college career. Once you transfer, you will have had a taste of what it is like to be a college student and (hopefully) better prepared to be on your own.
Take advantage of transfer resources.
Transfer counselors, career counselors and most professors will be more than willing — and happy — to answer any questions you have about the transfer process or your college career in general. Andrea Kurtz, assistant director of admissions for Mount Mary College (www.mtmary.edu) in Milwaukee, Wis., along with several dedicated transfer admission counselors,
helps guide students through the application-to-enrollment process.
“Once classes begin, transfer students have access to a variety of services provided by our Student Success Center, including: tutoring, academic advising, career development, professional counseling, accessibility services, and more,” says Kurtz. And Mount Mary College isn’t the only school with such a strong support system for transfer students. Look into the transfer resources your potential school offers. You will likely find guidance, expertise and support as you work toward earning your degree in a personal and productive way.
Don’t get discouraged!
It’s nice to think that every single credit will transfer, that you will be accepted to your “dream” school as a transfer student, and that you will graduate in four years or less. However, that is not always the case — and that is okay! Be at ease with whatever bumps in the road you may encounter because it is all part of what will make your individual journey unique and, believe it or not, most memorable. It’s up to you to enjoy the ride!
Pearsall tells students to “have a little faith in [yourself] because you can do so much more than you know and taking a leap at a new school is the start of finding yourself.” For her, transferring was “the greatest thing [she has] ever done” and hopefully it will be for you as well.
A semester-by-semester guide for a smooth transition
The moment you know you are going to transfer is the moment you should begin to plan for the process. We have put together a timeline for you to follow from your first semester to your final class at your two-year school. Follow these helpful tips and you will be well on your way to a smooth and successful transfer!
Gather as much information as possible. Contact admissions offices, schedule campus visits and narrow down your choices. You’ll also need to begin to gather the necessary pieces for your application(s). Find out what special requirements exist, any classes you might have to take and what (if any) four-year institutions your current school has established relationships with.
Research scholarship and grant information. You will likely be surprised at the number of financial aid opportunities available to you as a transfer student. Also, ask the transfer school about any awards they might offer. Email faculty and department chairs to get more information if necessary.
Decide on a school and/or program and apply! Include a resumé, recommendations and a portfolio if necessary. As a transfer student, you will be expected to offer a bit more than incoming freshmen right out of high school.
Submit your FAFSA (as soon after Jan. 1 as possible) and apply for any other need-based financial aid. Make sure your application is filed and all deposits are paid. It’s time to transfer!