Monthly Archives: June 2014

Can you get into your major at the school you’ll transfer to?

The final aspect of community college exploration that needs to be addressed is this:  Once you attend the community college you chose and did the required coursework to transfer to a Bachelor’s granting institution, can you get into the major you want to major in?

This is becoming a problem at many transfer institutions (the Bachelor’s granting college).  Let’s say you were a psychology major at the community college and then applied to and gained admission to a Bachelor’s granting institution — what do you have to do (what are the requirements) to be a Psychology major at the next college?  Can you just declare the major and you are in?  Or, are there extra hurdles and hoops you must jump over to be the major you want to be?

At our institution, there are currently around 6 majors that have extra hurdles that you will have to jump over even if you are admitted to the university.  There are particular courses that must be passed with particular grades; there are a certain number of units that must be completed; and there are GPA requirements that must be met before you can apply to be in the major.  Otherwise, we use the phrase “expressed interest in X” to show that you are interested in a particular major but not yet actually admitted to the major.  This might seem sneaky; and, it kind of is.  Why would the institution accept you if you couldn’t also be in the major you want to declare?  This is exactly why we encourage to really do your research not only about the community college but also into the Bachelor’s granting institution to which you will transfer.  Otherwise, you will potentially be in for a surprise.

What are transfer agreements?

The last two blogs asked you to investigate community colleges near to you; and, further, to investigate their websites for various specific pieces of information.  This post is about a very specific and important aspect of community colleges:  they only offer 2 year (or Associate) degrees.  If you aim to have a “college education” this usually means at least a Bachelor’s degree (BA — Bachelor of Arts or BS — Bachelor of Science).  Community colleges can not offer a Bachelor’s Degree; it is not the nature of a community college.  Consequently, you must begin to plan (from the very beginning) the fact that you will transfer.

In this post we want you to explore transfer information at the community college (or colleges) you have been investigating.  Go to the website and look for “transfer information” or “transfer agreements” or something about “transfer.”  The community college will definitely have something to tell you about transferring.

The information that you want to give attention to is what kinds of agreements do they have with which institutions.  For example, your authors live in California that has a system of over 100 community colleges with well established transfer agreements to either the University of California system or the California State University system — two totally different systems of college education; and, most importantly to students enrolled in community colleges, the two systems do not have the same transfer agreements with community colleges.  They will have transfer agreements to each system but the requirements for transfer will be different.

Go back to the website of the community colleges you are investigating and find out:
1.  What are the transfer agreements (general education courses? lower division major requirements?)?

2.  What Bachelor’s granting schools does the community college have agreements with?

3.  Are there GPA requirements?

4.  How many units do you need to complete at the community college before you can apply to transfer to a Bachelor’s institution?

Exploring your options at a community college is central to the college decision making process.  The only way to make an informed choice about where to apply (and ultimately attend) is to know what, exactly, your choices are.  Go exploring!

Community college . . .why choose it?

The previous blog talked about community colleges — explained a bit about what they are and encouraged you to locate nearby community colleges.  Did you find one?  What kinds of majors did it offer?  Did any of the courses look interesting to you?

Choosing to attend a community college first and then transfer to a Bachelor’s granting institution can be a good decision for some students.  Here are some pros and cons that we talk about in our book (Chapter 3):


Cost:  attending a community college is a fraction of the cost of a Bachelor’s institution, especially if you can live at home.

Transfer Priority:  most Bachelors institutions give priority to students transferring in from community colleges (rather than transferring in from another Bachelor’s institution).

Flexibility:  if going to school full time is not possible or desirable, a community college can offer much more flexibility in terms of full or part-time status.


College “feeling”:  because community colleges are often nearby to one’s high school area, going “off to college” is not the same experience at a community college.

Time to graduation:  once you transfer to a Bachelor’s institution, it may still take you more than another 2 years to graduate with your Bachelor’s degree.  Sometimes it is hard to get classes (late registration dates); sometimes the major Department at the Bachelor’s institution will require a student to repeat some courses due to Departmental policy.

Choosing to go to a community college is an excellent option for some students.  But, it is important to do your research; consider your goals and expectations for your college experience; and, then, put your best foot forward!

Next time, we’ll think about Bachelor’s institutions.


Calling all High School Students (even if you just graduated but aren’t sure what’s next)

Over the next two weeks, we will use this blog space as assignment space. I know, I know!  School is out.  But, there are some things that you  — yes you, heading into your Junior OR Senior year — can do to make your way toward college decisions.

The assignment for today is to find out what community colleges are accessible to you.

As we point out in Chapter 1 of our book, community colleges (also called junior colleges) can be a great first step toward getting a Bachelor’s Degree in your desired major.  It can be a great first step toward the educational and career goals you have.

Community colleges award Associate Degrees; they provide technical degrees or certifications for students seeking to enhance job qualifications.  Community colleges also offer a lower cost option for students wishing to explore majors and complete general education requirements and major per-requisites before applying to a Bachelor’s institution.

These institutions award admission based on space available (typically) not based on selection criteria.  In fact, sometimes high school students take courses at community colleges in order to get a feel for college and complete some units toward a future Bachelor’s degree before they have even graduate high school.

Your assignment this week is to find the nearest community college(s) to you.  Check out their website(s).  Find out:

1.  What majors do they offer?

2.  What is the cost to attend?

3.  What is the admission process?

4.  Are there residential halls for on campus living?

5.  What kinds of non-academic opportunities do they offer (clubs, organizations, intramural sports, music, etc.)?

If there is more than one institution nearby, make a table that has the above 5 questions in the first column, and then in the next columns compare and contrast the institutions which are accessible.  Familiarize yourself with the website — while all institutions have different websites, the language is similar:  Office of the registrar, Fees/Tuition, Admission Requirements, and so on.

This is just research.  Find out.  Be informed.  Know what your options are.

Major/Career Wrap-up

In this final post about careers and majors, I am wrapping up with two things I’ve read and heard this week.

First, in all honesty, a “four-year” college/bachelor’s degree, isn’t for everyone (gasp!). Yes, that’s the truth. Many people are perfectly happy with the career provided by their associate degree from a community/junior college, or a certificate from a speciality program. If this seems more realistic for you, review this article and do some research on programs of those types.

Second, last night (6/12/14) on Market place, I heard Tech companies don’t just recruit from the Ivies. Maybe your best strategy for getting a job at your ‘dream’ company is by going to the university in its closest proximity. Give the 3 minute story a listen!

Remember: there are very few majors that lead to a specific career. It is okay to go to college not knowing exactly what career/major you want, however, we encourage you to pick 2-4 majors that seem interesting and get started on them your first year – it’s your best strategy to graduate!

Major? Career? College? Is it worth it?

After reading last week’s blogs, maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused about career choices and selecting a major, it’s understandable. College is the time when ‘adult’ decision making begins. (However, we know, may of our readers have life situations that have required them to make adult decisions early in life.) Often ‘adult’ decisions seem daunting.

Yesterday, at orientation, with transfer students who want to be nurses, I had REAL conversations about trying to get into our nursing program = it’s harder than getting into medical school (at our institution)! Hearing that, you might start thinking “never mind, I’m not going to college!” I recently read this article which opposes the writers who say ‘don’t go to college, follow your dreams now.’ Here’s my favorite excerpt from it:

Taken from: Sunil Rajaraman: People routinely refer to anomalies like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to beef up their argument. Stop referring to diamond-in-the-rough talents to make your case! For our society to function, people have to design cars, work in PR, be lawyers, doctors, etc, etc, etc. Aside from the aforementioned three guys, take a look at the “about us” page on basically any tech (or non tech) company you can think of and you’ll note that… all the execs have degrees.

Face your daunting decisions, make a choice and pursue! You’ll be much happier with yourself when you figure out your decision was good, or maybe it was bad – but at least you tried, then you can go for the next thing with lessons learned!

Career Counseling

Have you thought about or tried career counseling? Did you even know it was a thing? Now days, some high schools have counselors who’s primary focus is helping seniors with their college applications and providing career guidance. However, if that was not available at your high school (or you didn’t take advantage of it), these services are available in college!

I was recently reading these Noel-Levitz reports which indicate 47% of first year college students, at all types of institutions: two-year public (community/junior) and private colleges, four-year private and four-year public (but remember, in most cases students do not finish in four), desire career counseling!

Find out how soon you’re eligible to meet with a career counselor, once you have committed to a college. Are you eligible before orientation, or is it part of the orientation process? Is it something you can do after summer orientation, or do you have to wait till the regular academic term starts. Do not be afraid of meeting with a career counselor – they’re there to help, take advantage of their resources!

Majors & Careers – They are Not the Same

For the next two weeks, our blogs will revolve around college majors. Often times, when talking about college, academic majors become a substitute for a career. Majors and careers are not the same thing. I clearly remember telling my dad I was majoring in communications and he asked if I was would someday be a TV news anchor. (I never took a journalism course!)

Whether you are about to graduate high school, or just did, or you’re in your first, or second, or maybe even third year of college, and have not decided on a major, we have a few recommendations to help you narrow your choices.

• Do our Self-Inventory worksheet! It’s downloadable for free, on the Worksheets link (above). If you put a little time into it, it should help you clarify your strengths and interests.
• Ask your high school/college counselor if there are any internship opportunities s/he could connect you to this summer. Real world experience helps sort likes and dislikes quickly! (The internship more than likely will be a volunteer position/unpaid.)
• Review all the majors offered at the college you plan to attend/are attending. Generally the college’s ‘course catalog’ can provide a comprehensive list of all the majors at the institution. You may find something appealing you didn’t know it was a major! Our catalog provides a list of careers associated to each major.
• Talk with people who know you well – ask them what careers they “see” you doing and why they came to that conclusion. My high school principal told me I should be a teacher, I thought he was nuts, but now I’m an academic advisor – and although not the same thing, both are connected to education.

As you do these things, take notes. Reflecting on your options will help you make an informed decision on the classes you take in the Fall term.