Community college and transferring
As students begin to get admissions notices from all of the colleges where they applied, some of those students may be having second thoughts about what they want to do or where they want to attend. There may be valid reasons for taking a step back and reviewing their goals and expectations for college. Many students may want to give serious thought to taking a look at their local community college, or even community colleges out of state.
One of the first reasons that a student may wish to give CC another look is that they were not offered a financial aid package that will fit with their family budget. College is expensive, especially when attending any school out of state. While it may be disappointing to not be able to leave home right after high school, it can make a lot of financial sense to attend CC to get those basic general education requirements over with at a much lower cost. Unless a student has a very specific major in mind that requires four years of coursework at a particular college, this can be a huge savings for a family. It is important to stay focused and on track while taking this path, so that you can be ready to transfer at the end of two years.
Another reason a student may wish to attend CC is that they were not accepted to the school(s) of their choice due to academic deficiencies. If the university of their dreams required a higher GPA or test scores than they had coming out of high school, then it is a great idea to take general education coursework at CC and focus on really getting great grades.
Many colleges have less stringent academic requirements and waive standardized testing for transfers, so that a student who may not have been eligible as a freshman will have a stronger chance as a junior.
What if you always had your heart set on going to a University of California or California State University school? Attending a CC in college in California is a great strategy. There are paths to guaranteed admission offered at many of the schools in both systems via the California CC system. It is important to meet with the transfer coordinator at the CC of your choice to make sure you follow the very specific TAG requirements to assure that you stay on track to transfer to the school and into the program of your choice. While community colleges do not offer on-campus housing, many will have offices to assist students with finding local living options. This option gives you the ability to not only save some money (out of state tuition at California CC’s is more expensive than in state), but it also gives you another shot at improving your grades to put you in the best position for admission to the school of your choice.
Finally, some students are just not ready to go to four-year school straight out of high school. Leaving home can be a daunting experience for any student, but when the nearest out of state school is 2,400 miles away, it can add to the normal stress and anxiety of leaving home and attending college. The academic rigors along with social changes are difficult for even the hardiest 18-year-old, and there is certainly no shame in saying, “I am just not ready for that.” Taking a year or two to take some coursework locally will go a long way toward preparing yourself emotionally and academically for the big change.
Whatever your reason for choosing community college, if your long-term goal is to transfer to a four-year school, it is important to meet with your advisor early to make sure that the coursework you choose is transferable to the college(s) of your choice. Get those foreign language requirements out of the way, take that writing class that you need, or check off a social science class that sounds interesting.
If you have a specific major in mind, especially in STEM, you will want to make sure that you are taking the right science courses to fulfill those early requirements. The bottom line is: stay focused, stay organized, keep in touch with your advisor and do well!
Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website thecollegeauntie.com for more information or to make an appointment.