I had the pleasure this week of sitting down with Transfer Admission Counselor, Tania Huston, to ask her about the application process for transfer students as opposed to the application process for first year students.
[Tania Huston, Admission Counselor for Transfer Students]
The good news? Transfer students have less paperwork to complete than a first year student. The bad news? Because the transfer application consists only of the application form, essay and application, grades are even more important. Standardized tests–a dreaded part of college admissions for first year students–are not required for transfer students with one full year (30 semester credits or 45 quarter credits) under their belt according to Huston.
So what are the three most important things for transfer applicants to know? Huston stressed the importance of applying early in the fall. Since each student’s situation is unique, having the most time possible to go over transcripts, advising, and scholarships can be a key factor to success and admittance for transfer students. Additionally, if the transfer application is completed in the fall then financial aid can be taken care of in January and February, the time of the year when there is more money available for students because it has not been doled out yet. Huston also reiterated the importance of the personal essay. While the traditional first year student has a lot of different factors going into their admission decision, a transfer student only has their grades and their writing. It is extremely important that the transfer student puts in the effort to differentiate themselves from the rest of the applicant pool through their personal essay and also that they put extra care into the editing process. A third important piece of advice from Huston is for transfer students to take the time to meet with their counselor. Taking the time to ask important questions such as, “Does my program require a separate application or any entrance exams?” “Will my credits transfer?” “Am I taking the right classes now to pursue the degree I want?” or “What kind of aid will I qualify for?” can completely change a student’s transfer experience.
For students who are on the fence about whether or not to go straight into a four year school or to take the two-year community college route instead, Huston says that while the Community College route can save time and money for a few specific types of students, transferring is not the best path for everyone. A student who wants to be in college but does not have a clear goal of what they want to do may find that getting their Associate’s degree is the perfect way to decide on an interest and will keep them from wasting money and time at a more expensive four year school until they have decided what they want to study. Other students who would benefit from the community college route would be students who are interested in specific and usually technical degrees but do not meet all of the prerequisites. For instance, a student who wants a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering but needs to brush up on his or her math skills might need to do so at a community college before being admitted into a four year program. On the other hand, Huston adds, students who are looking for the “traditional college experience” of living on campus and growing in a community for four years should opt to skip the two-year degree. Huston also cautions that the scholarship amounts for first year students are higher than the scholarship amounts for transfer students, so if a student has an idea of what they want to study they might be better off going straight to the four year school of their choice rather than going there their junior year.
Huston also shared some quick facts that transfer students frequently want to know:
1) The Merit Scholarships for Saint Martin’s University transfer students are currently $4,000, $7,000 and $10,000.
2) Students at community colleges who have a 3.5 or better GPA are eligible to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. PTK members are offered an additional scholarship of $1,000 after proving their membership when admitted to Saint Martin’s.
3) Students interested in nursing at Saint Martin’s need to already have their RN in order to be admitted into the RN-to-BSN program.
4) Students debating between an AA or an AS degree should also make that decision depending on their end goals. Unless interested in Engineering, Biology, Chemistry or any of the hard sciences, the student should go for the AA instead of the AS. If a student does pursue an Associates in Science, they need to be aware that while they will probably be better prepared for their degree in the sciences, they will still have to take some electives at their four-year institution in order to meet their general education requirements.
Most importantly, no matter the path a transfer student is planning to take or whether they came from a community college or another four-year institution, Huston is adamant in advising students to take all of their classes seriously no matter the level or the subject matter. Grades follow students from institution to institution and play a factor not only in admission but also in scholarship money. Making bad choices at an institution can mess up a student’s future at subsequent institutions. “If you’re serious about wanting to be a doctor,” Huston says, “you need to be serious about wanting to be a doctor at the community college, be serious at all levels”.