I watched many of my friends go off to state and private schools. Meanwhile, I attended the local junior college that accepted anyone with cash and a high school diploma. It took me months to get over this.
Now as a college graduate of a great university, I’d like to dispel three myths about transferring that I, along with many others, have believed over the years.
Myth #1: “I’m a failure.”
When Jeff Neuman received only rejection letters, he became downtrodden.
“Since all the four-year schools I applied to said no, I thought I had failed myself by not working harder in high school,” Neuman said. “At the same time, I knew it wasn’t the end and that I can always transfer.”
Not everyone realizes this right away. For me, it took a while. I thought transferring colleges was some sort of covert operation where you needed compelling reasons for doing so, such as staying home for two years to take care of a sick family member. But actually, many colleges realize students don’t always do well in high school, fail a class due to not seeking trigonometry help or want to save money. They’re not as unreasonable as you may think.
Now in law school, Neuman doesn’t regret his community college years.
“I had some of my favorite professors in community college,” Neuman said. “It was a great experience. … Also, when you transfer, it doesn’t say ‘transferred from’ on your degree. You get your degree from a four-year school, and no one knows or cares about the difference.”
Technically, only giving up constitutes failure, and scoring A’s at a community college is nowhere near giving up. If you want the degree that bad, you will make it happen.
Myth #2: “I’ll never get financial aid.”
My mom hassled me to apply for financial aid after I got accepted to a university. To get her off my case, I did the absolute minimum: filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Surprisingly, I received some grants and scholarships from my school, even with middle-class parents and barely above a 3.0 GPA.
Transfer students can indeed get scholarships, loans and grants. In fact according to the most recent special report on the transfer admission process by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), 77% of colleges reported giving merit-based scholarships to transfer students.
This, of course, only includes institutional scholarships — those given by colleges. Transfer students have plenty of state and independent scholarships to choose from as well. Scholarships.com, for example, has its own section for transfer students.
As for loans and grants, federal and private lenders work with students of all levels and institutions. Just fill out the FAFSA, apply for every scholarship you can and fill in the gaps with loans.
There are many ways to get the money, for the incoming freshmen of an online school and the transfer student of a state school alike. You just have to seek it out.
Myth #3: “I won’t get into a good school.”
I thought I was doomed to transfer to some unknown, backwater university after gaining all the credits I could at junior college. But actually, plenty of colleges accept transfer students each year. According to that same NACAC study, the transfer student acceptance rate overall is 64%, compared to 69% for first-year students. This is not a large difference.
Transfer agreements are an especially great way to go about transferring. Neuman was on a transfer agreement with Berkeley Community College, ensuring his acceptance into University of California – Berkeley for getting the appropriate grades.
“I think transfer agreements are a great way to get into schools when you can’t get in out of high school,” Neuman said. “Without it, I would have never gotten to go to Cal [UC-Berkeley] at all.”
Once you’ve been accepted to your transfer school, you need to prepare as early as possible, according to Blia Yang, assistant director, transfer services at the University of California – Santa Barbara.
“This begins with attending orientation, followed by regular consultations with the transfer center and admission counselors regarding coursework, as well as use of support services such as tutoring,” Yang said.
Overall, Yang supports students attending community college.
“Community colleges are great educational institutions that provide students with a wealth of courses from basic skills to transfer preparation, certificates and associate degrees,” Yang said. “There is something for everyone, based on students’ own interests, abilities and goals, all for a fraction of the cost.”
Don’t let these college transfer myths prevent you from getting the education that’s best for you and your goals.
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