By Kaylee Jackson
Pulse staff reporter
When high school students enter college, they are faced with many different decisions. Where to apply? Where to go? Do I choose a community college, or do I choose a four-year university?
For many students, the best choice is a community college followed by a transfer to a four-year university. The transition from high school to a community college can be a bit easier, both financially and emotionally, for a young college student.
The goal to obtain an associate’s degree becomes clear early on. Typically, degree plans are chosen and followed at the beginning of your college career. It isn’t always clear what is expected in those crucial years, even after an associate’s degree is earned. The best thing you can do is plan on transferring to a four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Select a university
- Choose a few universities that fit you. Tour the campuses. Chat with people who attend the university you are interested in. Once you narrow down your search, download or ask for their degree plan. Most of them are online as PDF files. Compare them and make sure you are taking classes that will transfer to the four-year university.
Complete the paperwork
- Make sure applications are completed before deadline. For Texas, make sure that all documents on applytexas.org are complete. The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, and many other four-year universities require a two-page essay, along with transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation, and an acceptable GPA. You can find other specific requirements and deadlines on university homepages.
Stay on track
- Make sure that you regularly meet with an adviser to ensure that you are on track. Advisers are there to help you. Take advantage of them every chance you get. At the beginning of each semester, schedule a meeting with your adviser. Obtain their emails for unanticipated questions. Get to know your department lead, meet them, take their classes, follow their advice.
- One of the best things to do to get comfortable on the new campus is to join a campus organization. If you have friends in your degree program, take classes with them. It is important to have a support system on campus that understands what you may be going through.
- Print your degree plan and keep it with you. Check off your classes as you take and pass them. This will help you stay on track and keep a positive mindset. Meet with an adviser again. Make sure the classes you are taking correct. If the class you need isn’t offered that semester, ask your adviser if there is a class you can take for equal credit. If you are meeting with your adviser regularly, this shouldn’t be a problem.
“If you are transferring to a different school it is important to always carry a copy of an unofficial transcript. This will help advisers tell you where you need to start and if you have completed enough classes at the community college,” said Krystal Garza, a transfer student from PAC to TAMUSA.
- “Don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself. Write down what classes you want to take each semester. Give yourself a reasonable number of hours to take each semester. Don’t overdo it on your course load. Make a plan and stick to it. Give yourself a deadline that you would like to graduate by, then tackle it,” said Ryan Truss, a transfer student from PAC to TAMUSA.
- Get to know your professors. Chances are that you’ll have them more than once if you choose a small university. Advisers have been in a student’s shoes before and can offer great advice along with internship leads and scholarship information.
“It is important to keep mature and professional relationships with your professors throughout your college career, both at the community college level and university level. You never know who might write you letter or recommendations later on,” said Kaci Byrom, a former PAC student and recent TAMUSA graduate.
Enjoy the journey
Lastly, relax and enjoy the ride. College is supposed to be a fun, educational experience. Stay organized throughout your college career and follow the steps listed above. You will be able to walk the stage with a few less wrinkles.