Community college students urged to plan early for transfer to 4-year schools

March 21, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Advice to community college students who want to transfer to four-year institutions: Look early and look often.

"The sooner students make a decision, the better," said Kristine DeWitt, Carroll Community College's director of career/life planning and transfer, during the school's transfer advisement day last week.

More than 30 colleges, primarily in Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, participated in the biannual event Tuesday to help students and community members make informed decisions about higher education.

"After the first year, studies need to be tailored to the school and course work they intend to follow," Ms. DeWitt said. "If they wait until after they have an AA [associate of arts] degree, some of the courses might not transfer."

College advisers and students agreed.

While most colleges don't have specific application deadlines for transfer students, talking to school representatives can make the transitions smoother, they said.

"When you look into any four-year institution, take the advice of advisers here and at that college," said Sharon Bogdan of the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. "A lot of students try to do it on their own, assume things and then find out how things work is not the way they thought."

Many four-year schools have agreements with community colleges spelling out which credits transfer and prerequisites for specific majors, the advisers said.

Contacting a four-year college early helps students build prerequisites into their community college program.

"If a student has a long-term goal of continuing education, it makes sense, while at one level, to be exploring another level of education to make good transitions," said Cheryl Nichols of the University of Maryland's University College. "You can never come too early to get information."

University College, on UM's College Park campus, is a separate institution that focuses on nontraditional education for employed adults, Ms. Nichols said.

Tara Eshelman and Tracy Davis, freshmen at Carroll Community College, said they want to make their transfer decisions as soon as possible. Both are 1993 Westminster High graduates pursuing degrees in elementary education.

"If you know you're going to transfer, go ahead and make the decision before coming here," Ms. Eshelman said.

"And make sure you aren't wasting money taking classes that you don't need or won't transfer," Ms. Davis added.

In choosing a college, tuition should not necessarily be the deciding factor, advisers said. Students first should make sure that the four-year college they want to attend has a good program in their major.

"Students shouldn't limit themselves because they think they can't afford it," Ms. Bogdan said. "Financial aid is looked at with the school applications. They should make the decision when they have all the information."

Rick Troutman, a fall 1993 graduate of Carroll Community College, is taking that advice. The business administration major first looked at only state schools, but now is considering a few smaller, private colleges.

"I don't want to be down on the state schools, but I heard some bad things, like about the class size," said Mr. Troutman, a 1990 graduate of North Carroll High. "I want to be somewhere small where there are 20 to 30 in a class, not 150."

He said he is interested in Western Maryland College, Loyola College in Baltimore and Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. "I've been looking around since I came here," Mr. Troutman said. "Now I need to get this done and figure out where I'm going so I can be ready for the fall."

Carroll Community College will have its next transfer advisement day in fall 1994, Ms. DeWitt said.

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