Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category
Whether you had your heart set on going to the same college as your best friends or you’ve been dreaming of having a specific alma mater for as long as you can remember, whatever the reason, it stings when your Plan A college choice falls through. As you consider your other options, I’d like to present one you may not have considered: community college.
While you may have heard about the community college option before, you might not know the full story. Most of what you hear about community college is that it is a cheaper alternative to a four-year institution. While the financial benefits are true (which I’ll get into later), they are only one of many benefits available to community college students. The other big community college opportunity that you may not have considered? Transfer.
Community College is the Path Back into Your Dream School
With the exception of a few schools (I’m looking at you, Princeton), community college students have the ability to transfer into any school in the country after just two years of course work. So if you had your heart set on an Ivy League school or your local state college, community college is your second chance for admission. In fact, you might even have a statistically higher chance of getting into a four-year school as a transfer student than you did as a high school senior. Last year, I compared the freshman acceptance rates to the transfer acceptance rates of 20 randomly selected schools from a Top 100 Universities list and found that, on average, students have a 30% greater likelihood of being accepted as a transfer student than as a freshman applicant.
Statistics aside, if you want to transfer from community college successfully, you are going to need the right strategy. The major component of a successful transfer strategy is course selection. The courses you take in community college and the grades you earn in those classes are the single most important aspect of your transfer application. You should have a 3.5 GPA or higher to be a competitive applicant at colleges with highly selective admissions, and above a 3.0 GPA for other institutions depending on their selectivity. When it comes to your courses, you should be taking courses that (A) fulfill your community college’s associate’s degree requirements, and (B) prepare you to start as a junior in your major after you transfer. You could use a tool like Transfer Bootcamp to automatically find the best courses for transfer or you could look up the courses that your transfer institution requires of its freshman and sophomore students and attempt to take similar classes at your community college. When all is said and done, if you perform well in the right classes, you can continue to earn your bachelor’s degree at the schools of your choice.
Choose Community College, Not Student Debt
Hindsight is 20/20, and the same rule applies to student loan debt. The situations that cause many students to take on unnecessary amounts of student debt may sound familiar: maybe you were accepted into your dream school, but received significantly less financial aid than expected, or perhaps you were rejected from your top choice and the back-up schools required you to take on student debt. This is one of those “what do I do now?” moments that occur all too frequently. The fact is, you don’t have to choose student debt, because community college is always an option. With an average full-year tuition cost of just $2,076, plus access to federal financial aid and scholarships, spending two years at a community college and then transferring could save you over $55,000 in tuition and fees alone compared to a private college.
Now, just because community college is cheaper than a four-year school doesn’t mean that you’re getting a lower caliber education. Community college professors hold master’s degrees and PhDs, and some of them even teach part-time at top-tier universities. What makes a community college education less expensive than a four-year college education is the lack of the bells and whistles of traditional colleges (sports stadiums, student housing, etc). With all that said, if you find yourself in a situation where your options are debt or community college, choose community college!
Combine transfer with the financial benefits of community college, and you’ve got a powerful education strategy that could open up a myriad of doors. All of this, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of opportunities for community college students (scholarships, internships, career pathways, etc). Hopefully, you’ll strongly consider the community college option and, who knows, you might just end up at your dream school after all.Diane Melville is Founder & CEO at Transfer Bootcamp and the author of “The Community College Advantage: Your Guide to a Low-Cost, High-Reward Community College Experience.” Find her on Twitter @DianeMelville Image credit: calaware.org
If you are a senior, but have not yet decided where you will be attending college in the fall, you may be feeling a bit panicky at this point of the year. It could be that you’ve opted to attend your local community college because you weren’t able to make a decision on a four-year school by May 1st. (And who can blame you? This is a pretty tough decision!) Now that Decision Day has come and gone, you and your parents may feel that community college is your only option for next year.
Great news – there is a lengthy list of four-year colleges and universities that are still accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year! If you have your heart set on attending a four-year school, it isn’t too late.
Why might you choose to attend a four-year school over a two-year school? I advise my students to attend a four-year college directly after high school under two conditions:
1. If you have been accepted to a four-year school
2. If you can afford the four-year school
With this advice in mind, some of the four-year colleges and universities still accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year include the following (see below for a link to the full list):
Check out the full list on the website for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. If you are interested in any of these schools, don’t forget to add them to your College List on Cappex!image credit: distance-education.org
So you’ve made your final college decision, sent in your deposit to secure your place, and celebrated. Now what? Here are a few things you should be focusing on now that you’ve made your big decision.
Register for Placement Testing
Almost all schools require you to take a few placement tests before enrolling. Don’t stress yourself out preparing for them, though! These tests, usually in general subjects like math and English, simply provide you and your school with an idea of where you are at academically. Then you can enroll in the appropriate level classes for your first semester and start your college career on the right foot. If you’re not sure how to register for placement testing at your school, check out the Admissions website or contact the Admissions department directly.
Register to Attend Orientation
Find out how to register to attend an orientation session at your school over the summer. If you are having trouble finding the information you need to get registered, check out the Admissions website or contact the Admissions department directly.
Research More Financial Aid Options
If you need to take out a student loan, start researching your options now. Carefully review your award letter to get an idea of how much you’ll need to borrow. If you need assistance, contact the Financial Aid office at your school. Don’t forget to keep applying for scholarships! Scholarships are available year-round, and they’re not just for high school seniors either. There are just as many scholarships available for college students as there are for high school students, so don’t pass up all those opportunities for free money!
Start Thinking about Living Arrangements
Most schools require incoming freshmen to live in on-campus housing or dorm rooms. If you have more options, however, look into them and start thinking about what would work best for you.
Begin Purchasing College Items
Make a list of the items you’re going to need for your dorm and and college life in general. Begin purchasing these items little by little. Smaller purchases over the course of the summer is a much more manageable approach than going on one big, expensive shopping trip.
Enjoy Your Summer
Lastly, make the most out of your summer! Spend time with your family, hang out with your friends, and take time to do a few things that make you happy and relaxed. Once you start college, your life will change in big ways, so slow down and enjoy this time.image credits: uoregon.edu, huffpost.com
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