Transfer Success

Do your state’s public universities have programs to help students transfer into four-year degree granting programs from two-year colleges?  My alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has a wonderful program to help community college students transfer to the highly selective university. If attending a four-year institution is your goal then you should be sure to set yourself up for success early.  Speak with the admissions counselor about transfer programs before you enroll.  If you are already a community college student then speak with your advisor.

Half of the battle in earning your degree is being aware, and taking advantage of, the myriad of opportunities available to you, and arming yourself with the knowledge you need to pursue your goal.  One area where students fall short is not familiarizing themselves with the institution to which they would like to transfer.  A prospective community college transfer student should ask themselves: are there certain courses I should take to be eligible for admission; do I need to (re)take the SAT; what minimum grade point average do I need; and how many students per year transfer to the school?  By researching this information ahead of time you will know exactly what you need to accomplish at your community college, and be far better prepared to apply to the four-year institution of your choice.

Study Time

There is a common rule that says you should multiple the number three times the number of credits a course is worth to determine how much you should study.  Thus, for a three credit course you should study at least nine hours per week.  Whether you follow this rule. or make up your own schedule, it is important for you to examine your schedule each semester to ensure your can be successful.

If you know that your fall work schedule is always more difficult than your spring then do not take classes in subjects that are your weak points.  Another way to strategically develop your schedule is to take a course you find difficult with courses that you find easier or more interesting.  That way you are not bogged down a full schedule of courses you dread going to, and you will have a better chance of having a solid grade point average overall.

Mapping out your study time at the beginning of the semester will allow you to set yourself up for success.  When you deviate from your schedule you will know how much harder you have to work to catch up.  Great grades start from planning from start to finish how you will complete your work until you have a full understanding of your subject matter.

Collegiate Expectations

The college or university experience can be overwhelming for any student.  One of the things you are expected to know is how to perform at the collegiate level.  Faculty and staff assume that you know the differences between high school level work and work that is acceptable at the college level.  They assume you know how to behave in a classroom. What may be most important for you to know is that faculty members assume that you understand their role in your education.

At research institutions faculty may not be very involved in your education outside of the classroom.  Many are working on their own research as a condition of their employment.  You may find that you have more interaction with your teaching assistants (graduate students who are learning to teach) than your professor.  However, this does not mean that you cannot build relationships that you will need with your professors.  Office hours are a fantastic way to speak to your professor one-to-one.  As you move up into upperclassman status you will definitely want to take advantage of getting to know your professors because you may need recommendations from them for employment or graduate school.

Conversely, students who attend teaching colleges typically have far more access to their professors.   At teaching institutions your faculty members are expected to interact with you, which is why they are not charged with the requirement to perform research.  Just was with research institutions, you can drop by their office hours.  However, you will also most likely find them available outside of these strict times.  Also, you may find that your entry-level classes are smaller than at a research institution and the professor leads discussions more than lectures.

Whichever type of institution you attend be sure you are clear on your individual faculty member’s classroom expectations.  As a professor, I fully expect that my students have read the required reading for class and have read the syllabus to determine when their assignments are due.  Excuses such as “I didn’t know we had a paper due today because you didn’t remind me” are unacceptable.  Your professors assume that you have embarked on an education journey to prepare for a professional career and can only help you if you are willing to do your part.