By Kaylee Johnson
A few weeks ago I attended my second “Accepted Students Day.” This time it was at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. It went smoothly and I left feeling very satisfied. I knew that St. Rose would provide the “college experience” I had been longing for.
Unfortunately, my previous Accepted Student’s Day did not go as well. The plan was that I would go to SUNY Adirondack (ACC) for one year to get my feet wet, but later transfer to a four-year school. My family and I traveled all summer, so I attended ACC’s August Accepted Students Day. When we entered the building, two twenty-somethings walked over to me and bluntly tried to get us to pay for parking passes and file for financial aid. When we told them we were not planning on filing for financial aid, they continued to nudge us. They also told us that students would be choosing their courses that day, but parents were not allowed to be in the room. I found this quite ridiculous, as I was seventeen years old at the time and I would have felt a lot more comfortable with my parents by my side. Thankfully my father had worked in the college world for over 20 years, so he gave me a crash course on the ins and outs of choosing courses. He told me not to be bullied by guidance counselors, and one year later it worked in my favor.
I signed up for classes in an old fashioned computer lab with twenty other students. My guidance counselor sighed as I told her all of my requests. Her computer was having glitches and every ten or so minutes she had to get up and talk to the IT guy. Every time she got up she said, “Are you sure you want this class?” I reassured her that I did, and then she sighed again. I told her I wanted to try an online class or two and she pulled a large pamphlet out of her bag on “Why Online Classes Are Not For Everyone.” I looked at it and told her I could handle it. Instead of reading me the courses, she handed me a binder with a long list of courses. I did not know how to locate the courses I needed because it wasn’t my job to do that, it was hers. I was never a strong math student and I was adamant on not taking remedial math at a community college. She continued to pressure me. She told me I would fall behind, but she was wrong. My new school doesn’t count remedial math courses; they have an easier placement test and more liberal math offerings. I would have wasted my time taking remedial math.
I left SUNY Adirondack’s “Accepted Students Day” with a pit in my stomach. It felt greedy and wrong on so many levels. The College of Saint Rose sent me an acceptance letter that was visibly nicer than SUNY Adirondack’s. We were astonished by the difference between the two orientations. St. Rose invited students who had graduated and had landed wonderful jobs to speak. Each major had their own personalized tour. It actually felt like a college orientation should feel.
Some of my distaste towards SUNY Adirondack comes from my experience at their faraway satellite campus in Wilton, NY. It seemed like they took their crankier professors and made them teach at the satellite campus, or at least that was my experience (though a couple were great). I would advise new community college students to stay away from satellite campuses, if possible. Most of the time they don’t provide all of the resources available at main campuses, plus you may end up with burned out, faraway-commuting professors like I did.
There is nothing wrong with SUNY schools; in fact schools like SUNY Geneseo are considered fantastic. Some SUNY community colleges are the best in the country. My experience at a satellite campus was not a good one, but that doesn’t mean you won’t thrive at a community college. In fact I strongly recommend registering at a SUNY school this year since the “free tuition” bill was passed. Overall, every college has nicks and dents; some have more than others. SUNY Adirondack had its flaws, but it was a place where a sixty-year-old and twenty-year-old could sit next to each other and learn the same material. I found that to be so inspiring. If I got nothing else out of my “college experience” at SUNY Adirondack, I found that a person is constantly learning. no matter what path they have taken in life to get to that classroom.