Worried about the transfer process? Don’t be. You’ve had someone in your corner all along: your transfer counselor. Here, one of those counselors explains how you can make the most of your relationship.
I recently spoke to a group of high school students who had all identified that they will be attending community colleges in the fall. As the transfer counselor at a private four-year institution, I felt compelled to reach out to this population because, quite frankly, transferring is too darn difficult without some long-term planning in place. As I talked with this group, I asked them, by a show of hands, to indicate who had a person or people in their life who had helped them get where they are today. Every single student raised his or her hand. And it’s true: the relationships we develop over our academic careers are paramount to our success. Why would the transfer process be any different? The answer is, it isn’t. But it is new, and new can be daunting, which is why there are people like me to help make it less so. I do not say that as a boast but rather as an offering: transfer counselors want to be utilized. We are eager to help you succeed. Let us!
Did you know that 81% of students attending community colleges indicate they want to earn a bachelor’s degree? With nearly 8.3 million students enrolled in community colleges, that is an incredible amount of moving around. Except, in reality, only 20% of those students actually end up making the move to a four-year school. Students face countless barriers to accessing higher education, but what many do not realize is that there are people in place at both two- and four-year institutions whose responsibility is to reduce those barriers.
If you are among the 81% of students who intend to earn a bachelor’s degree by way of a two-year degree, the relationships you develop at both your current and intended institutions will be crucial to your ability to persist. This is not to say that you can’t get there on your own. Of course you can. But the road to the end result will have far fewer speed bumps if you develop relationships with people focused on your success.
The transfer process is different at every college and university across the globe
Every college and university is different. It is not our intention to make the transfer process more challenging by being so different from one another, but, unfortunately, that is what we have done. But this is also a product of every transfer student being so different too. You come to us with varying academic backgrounds that ultimately will impact your academic experience at our specific institutions. As a prospective transfer student, you must rely on both your current and intended institutions’ transfer counselors to clarify the differences between them.
The relationships you develop will provide access to information necessary to complete the transfer process smoothly and in a manner that saves you the most time and money. Colleges and universities have varying limits on the amount of credits that will transfer. Standards for what makes a course transferable and which requirements the transferring credits will ultimately fulfill also vary.
This information will impact your completion timeline and ultimately your overall cost of education. If you are attending community college in an attempt to keep the total cost of your education down, you must be sure to get the answers to these questions. Specifically, many students believe that earning an associate degree is the first step to a two-plus-two or half-and-half education resulting in a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes
this is true, but not always. It is important to remember that earning an associate degree does not guarantee that earning the bachelor’s degree will only take two years more.
Most colleges and universities have worked diligently with their local community colleges to develop pathways or agreements that make the transfer process easier. These pathways sometimes come with great perks, like waived application fees or less complex application procedures. So how do you find out about specific two-plus-two programs, transfer pathway opportunities, and other nuances of the transfer process? Start working with the transfer counselors available to you.
Your community college transfer counselor and the transfer counselors at four-year schools know each other
Believe it or not, a large part of my time is spent cultivating relationships of my own. Learning about local and regional community colleges helps me better understand you as an applicant. Getting to know your transfer counselor gives me the opportunity to partner with the people already invested in your success. I am able to do my job better because of the transfer counselors at other institutions. As partners in this process, we have developed pathways and agreements geared toward making your transfer experience better.
We’ve coordinated programs aligned with providing you access to information that will make your transfer experience smoother. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other and each other’s roles, all with best practices in mind. We’re working together. We’re talking about you. We’re working together for you. The better you get to know us, the better we’re able to work together to get you where you want to be.
Make sure you get what you’re paying for through the transfer process
College is an enormous investment. You’re investing not only in an opportunity that will provide you the knowledge base necessary for your career but also in the resources that will help you get there. Resources like transfer advisors are part of what you’re paying for. Use them. Okay, so you’re not paying for your intended institution’s transfer counseling resource yet, but what you may not know is that as much as our admission offices want to enroll you, we want to retain you even more. It doesn’t benefit us to enroll students who are not a good fit for our institutions and, more importantly, it definitely will not benefit you. We want to work with you through the transfer process only if you’ll be able to achieve your goals with us. Otherwise, it isn’t worth the time and energy—for you or us—to navigate the admission process if ultimately we’re not the right place for you.
We want you to find success as a transfer student, and sometimes that means being realistic about the options. Capitalizing on the relationships you’ve developed at community college is part of accessing the resources that you’re paying for. It also means there’s a greater chance of you finding success through the transfer process. And we like successful students. Successful students lead to successful community members, and successful community members can change the world.
Tell your story
The details you provide help to make your transfer process smoother. You decided to transfer for a reason—perhaps transferring was always your goal, or perhaps your decision came after realizing an intended major or career path. Whatever the reason, how you arrived at the decision to transfer is imperative in helping me understand how to best serve you. Do you have children? A job? A financial obligation to your family? Do you have aspirations of earning a master’s or doctoral degree? Do you have a learning difference? Are you a veteran? How many colleges and/or universities have you attended? Did you take college-level courses while earning your high school diploma? The answers to these questions and so many more impact nearly everything about your transfer process; from filling out the application to selecting courses once you are admitted and enrolled, knowing how you’ve arrived in my office helps me figure out where to point you next.
Hearing your story is the very best part of my job. I get to know you as an individual, not just as a stack of paper on my desk. I get to witness your excitement about starting a new academic experience and listen to you as you describe why you want to pursue your goals. I am honored and humbled to hear about your struggles and how you’ve learned from and overcome them. I am impressed by the barriers you’ve already faced and your sense of resilience as you navigated your way to me. Most importantly, hearing your story helps me develop a relationship with you that will allow me to understand fully what this next step in your education can do for you and the life you aspire to have. Once I understand that, I can and will do everything in my power to help you realize that goal. Sometimes that means having an honest conversation about whether or not my college offers the best route for you to meet those goals. Those are tough conversations to have, but having them can make all the difference.
No one who is successful has done it alone. The relationships that we develop in our academic and professional lives are just as important to our well-being as those we’ve developed in our personal lives. Transferring is a tricky business, and transfer counselors are essential to navigating the process. Taking advantage of their knowledge and networks can be the difference between persisting on to a bachelor’s degree or not. If you’re one of the 81% of students enrolled in community college who intend to do so, you’re going to want some help along the way.
Get to know your transfer counselors now, not just at your current institution, but at every four-year institution you have a potential interest in attending. You may not end up with me at the institution I represent, but I know that if you do, we will have done the work necessary to make your transfer experience easier and that the years ahead of you are well planned toward your success.