By Prof. John DeSpagna
You are on the path to success by working towards your degree at a community college. Part of the path to success is planning out what you want to do in your future. Selecting the appropriate four-year school to transfer to, where you will earn your Bachelor’s degree is the next step on your path to success.
As I have advised many students over the years, they state that they want to go to a four-year school. A point I would like to bring forward is that in many cases, it may make sense to finish your Associate’s degree first. Consider staying at your community college to earn your Associate’s degree, as you will always be considered a college graduate when you do so. Being able to show the credential that you are a college graduate will help you when you go looking for a job. You can also save money on tuition and housing costs by living at home.
What I would do next is try to identify what you want to major in. Selecting a major is an important decision, and I think the best thing to do here is listen to your intuition. Write down things that you like to do and try and correlate that to a major field of study. Remember, you should have a passion for what you are doing in your career and look forward to going to work every day.
After selecting a major, think of where you want to go geographically. One of the benefits of going away to college is the experience of being out on your own. Go out and try this. If you go away to school for two years, you always have the option of coming back home if you did not like where you went to school.
As you are selecting a geographic region to go to, you should also be thinking of your future job prospects. What jobs are in demand in this area and can I see myself relocating to this area after I graduate from college? Think about the cost of living where you live now and where you may want to go away. What are the differences in costs to buy a home down the road?
After selecting a few colleges to potentially transfer to, go for a visit. You are going to be spending a lot of time at this college, so make the investment in time and go see for yourself. Set up an appointment for a tour of the campus. You will probably go on an interview, and you must always be positive on the interview. Ask questions and be prepared.
An important part of the transfer process is seeing how many of your credits will transfer over. Look for articulation agreements that are in place. In the SUNY system, we have a SUNY Seamless Transfer program set up to make this more transfer friendly to students. As you look into transferring credits, you have to realize that most schools will only accept a C or better to transfer a course over. Bring a copy of your transcript when you go on your interview so it can be evaluated.
Yes, your GPA does matter when you try to transfer. Academics are important and you should make every attempt to improve your GPA to open more opportunities for yourself. Colleges also look at your GPA when awarding academic scholarships. Inquire about and apply for scholarships when you transfer.
You also need to be very cognizant of the concept of deadlines. Colleges have strict deadlines that you need to adhere to. The colleges have to set up their programs and need to fill the classes. Don’t wait until the last minute and miss a deadline in the application process.
Continuing your education with a transfer to a four-year school is an important decision in your educational and personal growth. Try and follow these steps on the path to your success.
John DeSpagna is Chair of the Accounting and Business Administration Department at Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y.