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This new year may be one of the most important of your life. Think about it, you may:

Graduate from a 2-year college, or at least get a lot of credits, making this milestone come near.

Then you may either transfer to a 4-year college, where you will get intensive training in a career that will consume your next 40 or so years.

Or you may go directly into a career based on the credentials of your associate’s degree.

Either way, when you look back at 2014 some day, you will mark it down as one of your periods of great transition.

This new year will require great focus. Mistakes at this time — taking the wrong courses, failing, putting your job or your personal relationships before your studies, picking the wrong transfer college — could end up setting you back years. Perhaps mistakes you may make in 2014 will be unrecoverable. 

In this article, I will collect the best advice from the various topics we covered in 2013.

Succeeding at Your Next College

In February 2013, we had an article with tips for succeeding when you go from community college to a 4-year college. Donniece Cooper, Coordinator of Transfer Admission at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, told us that students should bring a notepad with them when they tour college campuses:

“Ask questions: Make a list of questions you can ask during the interview. The whole purpose of the interview is make sure you are informed regarding your options as a transfer student. Feel free to ask as many questions as possible about scholarships, financial aid, study abroad opportunities and academic programs. You want to get the most out of your transfer experience.”

March 2013

The following month, our cover story asked: “Is a ‘top’ college better for you?” We debated whether it is better to go to a brand-name college or a lesser-known college that may more specifically fit your intended career goals. Our experts were split.

Vicky Oliver, author of the best-selling “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions” (Sourcebooks, 2005), stated:  “I believe you should aim to get into the best college possible, and not worry too much about which major will lead to a particular career goal. It’s always helpful to have a ‘brand-name’ college on your resume – ample evidence to future employers that you’re smart and work hard.”

But Michael Ray Smith, Professor of Communication Studies at Campbell University, disagreed: “In the day, names meant something. Now it’s about the candidate. What can she do for the organization?”

April 2013

Our cover story this month informed readers on: “How to ace your final exams.” Missed it? Look for it in our archives at A 4.0 student at Hofstra told us: “I find that I have to start a week before the test. I re-write my notes into an outline, and I go through the textbook noticing anything that is important that is not in my notes. I’ll review my outline daily.”

May 2013

We asked four Suffolk County Community College students where they are going after graduation in this issue. We also mostly sided in favor of community college students taking summer courses for a variety of reasons: They are shorter, more intensive and students can concentrate on one course at a time. Professor Jennifer Sherman noted, “Summer classes can be a great idea for students to learn responsibility. There are no summer breaks in the real world.”

June 2013

Yes, we publish in June. That issue gets great pick-up from summer students. In this issue, we examined, “How 4-year colleges are different.” The short answer — a lot!

This article hopefully was helpful to students transitioning to a 4-year school.

“NYIT was definitely more challenging than Nassau Community College because there were more projects, tests and a lot more requirements on students. There was a large emphasis on students getting internships, being involved with extracurricular activities like clubs centered around their major,” NYIT graduate Lauren Calder explained. “I loved NCC. It was just different at NYIT.”

Fall 2013 Semester

We came back for the fall semester with monthly cover articles, including:

“Making it through the first month,” about how the first month at a community college is the most important when it comes to longterm success in college; “Haunted colleges,” where, for Halloween, we investigated the paranormal at campuses in the Northeast (mostly for fun); and, last month, “Adjusting to life at your new college,” where Campus News writer Nate Villano, who had transferred from Suffolk to UAlbany, gave helpful advice for students with a similar plan.

Hopefully this advice has helped. We will come up with similarly useful articles in the new year. If this is your transfer year, be sure to follow us online. Our stories are also pertinent to what you will experience when you move on.

Best of luck in 2014!