|Transfer Student Survival Guide
-- DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRANSFER WITHOUT READING THIS! --
Thousands of students attend community colleges in Alabama each year. A large number of these students choose to transfer to other colleges and universities in order to complete bachelor degrees. Often students find the transfer process to be both intimidating and stressful. If students (with the aid of advisors, counselors, and other community college staff members) take an active role in the transfer process, they can avoid future problems related to transfer admissions, transfer of credit, financial aid, and social adjustment.
The following provides some general information, suggestions, and advice about proactively facing the transfer process and SURVIVING it! Each prospective Transfer Student must "DEVELOP A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF THE TRANSFER PROCESS!" Here are our top ten suggestions on how you can survive as a transfer student!
TEN STEPS TO SURVIVING THE TRANSFER PROCESS...
Click the check beside each to learn more.
1. Start Preparing Now! - Create a "THINGS TO DO" checklist.
It is Never to Late to Start Planning
It is NEVER too late to start planning your educational path. However, if you are a freshman at a community college, the time to start planning is now! Even better than that....We suggest you start planning during your junior or senior years in high school. If you know you are going to attend a community college and later transfer to a four-year college to complete your bachelor's degree, begin to map out the process now - don't wait!
Make a "THINGS TO DO" Checklist
First, sit down with your parents or a counselor or advisor (someone who is a mentor to you). On a piece of paper or on your computer, begin a "THINGS TO DO" checklist. The list should include, but not be limited to the following items... (feel free to add more to your list)
- Obtain application forms and deadline information
- Find out GPA requirements for transfer students
- Find out what is required of transfer students that may not be required of native students
- Request catalogs from prospective transfer schools
- Find out if there are existing articulation/transfer agreements
- Obtain transfer guide from STARS System for major (if attending an Alabama Community College)
- Find out what financial resources exist to help pay for college
(scholarships, financial aid, school loans, student employment opportunities, etc.)
- Research prospective majors (decide on major as soon as possible)
- Contact possible transfer schools (set up meeting with advisor)
- Set up tour(s) at possible transfer schools
- Begin to investigate room and board opportunities (dorms, apartments, trailers, rentals, etc.)
Keep List in a Safe Place - Review and Update It Periodically
Once you have the first draft of the "THINGS TO DO" list, continue to updated it and review it. We recommend that you go over this list at the beginning of each semester so that you can check things off as you accomplish them. Also, keep this list in a safe place (filing cabinet, on your computer, on your phone) -- don't loose it!
2. Declare a major as soon as possible and try to stay the course.
Choosing a Major - A Very Important Decision
Some students know from day one of their college career what they want to major in and what they want to do after they graduate from college. If you are one of these students, consider yourself lucky. Most students, on the other hand, have no idea about what they want to major in. Sometime early in your freshman year, you should sit down and really think through this decision. This is a VERY IMPORTANT DECISION - It could very well impact the rest of your life! So, we recommend that you take it seriously.
Don't Make the Decision Alone - Get Help!
If you don't know what you want to major in, Get help! What are your interests? What do you enjoy doing? Do you know anyone who is in a career or job that you think might be interesting? Learn from others. For example, if you think you might be interested in being an attorney (lawyer), contact a friend of your family who is in this profession and ask them if you could work part-time during the summers in their firm. You might even ask to volunteer - do it without pay. Find someone who is in a career path that is of interest to you and learn all you can about that particular field of work.
Use the internet to learn more about different careers or visit a career development office on your campus or in your town and spend time investigating different career options (look at both pros and cons). One word of advice...do not pick a career simply because it has a high salary! Find something that you enjoy and that is rewarding in other ways beyond the monthly paycheck. Remember, once you begin to work, you should want to enjoy what you do each day at your job.
Try to stick with your major - Don't change majors every other semester!
Yes, some courses you take will be difficult. Stay the course if possible. Many students before you have suffered through the same courses. Don't give up! The more often you change majors, the longer it will take to obtain your degree. Make friends with other students in your major field and suffer through it together. You can can encourage others, and they can encourage you. In most situations, each time you change your major, it will add at least one year to your program completion.
3. Conduct your own research about the transfer process.
Take advantage of FREE internet resources.
Don't just depend on our web site or what your advisor may tell you. Take time to investigate and research the transfer process. Find out what others are saying about the pitfalls and hurdles associated with transferring from one institution to another. To read more about the transfer process and what it entails, we encourage you to visit the following web sites:
See if your chosen institutions have specific transfer student web pages.
In addition, almost all the public and private universities in Alabama have pages on their web sites dedicated to transfer students. If you know for sure where you plan to transfer, check out their web site and search for "transfer student information". Check with your own community college, they may also have a web site or web page that provides more information about the transfer process.
4. Gain a better understanding of the transfer admissions process.
You can't transfer until you are admitted!
The only way a student can transfer is to be admitted (officially accepted) into a specific four-year college or university. This process varies from institution to institution. If you know the institution you plan to transfer to, then go to their web site and search for "admissions" or "admissions process". If you are unsure where you are going to transfer, visit multiple web sites and find out the differences in each schools admission process and procedures. Again, update your "THINGS TO DO" list that you created in step one above. Make sure you know the GPA requirements and ACT/SAT requirements for the institution(s) you are considering applying to.
5. Make a list of important deadlines.
Make sure you don't miss an important deadline.
One of the big pitfalls of transferring is missing an important deadline. Each institution has a calendar that they post important deadlines for admission into their institutions. If you miss these deadlines it may delay your entry into the institution by a semester or more. We recommend you keep a transfer deadline calendar (on your phone or on paper). Set up reminders so that you can send in the information or attend transfer orientations as required by the receiving institutions.
6. Obtain information about financial aid or scholarships.
Financial aid is provided to students through the Federal Student Aid Program. Visit their official web site at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. Visit your community college counseling office to learn more about financial aid and the options available to you. Here are two helpful web sites. Use the federal Student Aid link to submit your FASFA form.
Undergraduate scholarships are forms of aid that help students pay for their education. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Hundreds of thousands of scholarships from several thousand sponsors are awarded each year. Institutions throughout Alabama offer various academic and athletic scholarships. Most institutions offer scholarships specifically designed for transfer students. Check out the web pages of the institution(s) you are interested in attending to see if they offer transfer student scholarships. Like everything else, there are certain requirements and deadlines for applying for scholarships. Your community college counseling office may also be able to help. Check out http://www.fastweb.com for additional information.
7. Obtain accurate articulation information (course credit).
GET THE GUIDE
If you found this page on our web site, you probably already know a little about the STARS Transfer Guide Program in Alabama. To learn more about STARS please visit the other pages on our web site.
Articulation agreements are agreements that protect students when they try to transfer course work from one institution to another. Some states (like Alabama) have a statewide agreement (accessed through STARS). Other states have institution specific agreements with their local community colleges.
The best way for us to help you make sure all your credits will transfer is for you to go through the OFFICIAL "GET THE GUIDE" process - click here to begin.
Go Over Articulation Agreements with Counselor or Advisor
Once you obtain your guide or a copy of an articulation agreement, sit down with a counselor or advisor and go through it course-by-course. Make sure you understand what courses you should take and the ones that you might not need to take. Use your guide as a check-sheet to keep up with your progress. Make an appointment to meet with representatives from the institution to which you plan to transfer sometime during your sophomore year. In this meeting show them the guide/agreement and make sure they are giving you all the credit that you are due.
If you have questions or need more information about articulation (fancy word for transfer of credits), please contact us.
8. Set up a meetings with advisors or counselors to discuss the transfer process.
Take Advantage of Your Advisor's Expertise and Knowledge
Many students meet with their community college advisor one time and then never meet with them again. It is smart to develop a strong relationship with your advisor at the two-year college. Most advisors or counselors have been working with transfer students for a number of years. They can keep you on track academically and hold you accountable. They can also contact the four-year counselors to discuss issues or problems that you may encounter as a student. We suggest you meet at least once a semester with your counselor or advisor. Take advantage of their expertise! They are usually very willing to help. They want you to succeed!
9. Attend a transfer orientation program at your new school.
Attend a transfer orientation.
Most four-year schools have various transfer orientation sessions that they offer throughout the academic year. Prior to your transfer, you should attempt to attend a Transfer Student Orientation hosted by the institution. It is very important that you attend. We strongly encourage you to attend one of these sessions. You will learn so much more about the institution. You will also have opportunities to find out all you need to know about campus life and academic programs. DO NOT THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR NEW CAMPUS SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN ATTENDING A COLLEGE. Check the four-year institutions web sites for transfer orientation information. ATTEND and LEARN something! You will benefit!!
10. Collect general information about your new university- academics, student life, etc.
Find out more about your new school.
Academics are important, so make sure you go to a university that emphasizes and promotes strong academics. You can find numerous web sites and publications that rank colleges and universities. If you are going to pay for the education, make sure it is a good one. Find out how successful their students at finding work upon completion of the degree.
If you have a chance, go on a campus tour of your new school. Ask questions of the tour guide or admissions officer...You will never know unless you ask! Find out all you can about the place you will be spending the next few years of your life. Do your research on the institution using their web site and other web sites that rank universities on various attributes. Find out what is available to you beyond academics. Get involved on campus outside of the classroom.
GOOD LUCK ON YOUR NEW
WE ARE HERE TO HELP!