It’s nearing springtime again, and, for some of you, that means graduation. But then what? If you’re in a program that requires a bachelor’s or higher for employment, it means finding another college. How do you find that college? How do you know if it’s the right one? Even if you have a dream college you know you want to go to, how do you find back-up options? Hopefully, this post will be helpful in getting you started.
Find Out What’s Available
The best way to start is by doing a Google search of colleges good for your desired major. You probably already have a decent idea of what size and location you would like, so just those three parameters can narrow your options down considerably. Once you have a list, talk to people who know the schools about their experiences. They can be friends, family, and advisors or professors from both Ulster and the schools you’re looking at. Ask people you might not think to ask, like the school’s alumni, employers in your chosen field, and people who transferred out of the school (that’s a big one, find out why they did). Remember not to depend on one particular person’s testimony too much when making decisions though, since in the end the choice is about you and your needs.
The Big Questions
There’s many important things to keep in mind when finding a school and applying, and many are the same as what you already discovered at Ulster: How much will it cost? How much financial aid will you get? Are there scholarships? If you’re a commuter, how much does a parking permit cost? How will your classes from Ulster transfer into the other school’s program? Are the professors good? What are the classes like? How difficult is it to get in? How much will it cost just to apply? By the time you get through them all, you will probably want to throw the whole idea of transferring out the window, but you don’t have to! Colleges will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and assist you with the process. Often they have brochures and tours that will help answer most, if not all, of these questions. If some branches of the college’s admissions department are less helpful than others, don’t be afraid to push for information. It’s your money and your time that will be on the line; you deserve answers.
Does the School Really Fit?
You’ve done your research. You know how good the school is for your major, you’ve talked to a few people who know the school, maybe you’ve even gone and talked to some admissions people. Now here comes a really important part: finding out if the school suits YOU. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking all online classes, going as a commuter, or living on campus, you need to know more about the school itself. Visit! Sometimes, a school will just feel right (or very not). Colleges offer guided tours around campus, both one-on-one and in a group. Many schools offer a shadow program, where you can follow a student around for a day and attend classes with them. This is obviously the ideal situation, as it will give you a real idea of what classes, students, and professors are like at your school. A school can sound great on paper and in pictures, but when you’re actually there, you might find that the “great professors” might be very boring and stuffy, the “83,000 square foot library” could have an exceptionally small amount of books, and the “welcoming commuter lounge” could be a barren corner of the basement that frequently gets used for testing. Know before you commit!
Crunch Time! The College Application
Once you’ve found a few schools you know you’ll be happy attending, it’s time to start applying! Fun fact: did you know there’s an easy, free application that you use as an Ulster graduate when applying to any of the SUNY schools? If a SUNY school is on your list to apply to, that will prove an excellent savings. Don’t forget to apply to several; even if it seems expensive in the moment. Not only could you not be accepted to your favorite one, in addition, after accepting an offer from one, you could still find out that it’s the wrong choice during the enrollment stage. Leave options for yourself.
Remember the Value of Your Decision
Lastly, my personal tip as a transfer student may seem a bit obvious, but I’ll tell it anyway. Try your best to find and go for a place you truly want to attend. In the end, it’s years of your life that you can’t get back. And college should be so much more than just getting that piece of paper at graduation; during your junior year, senior year, and beyond, it’s the opportunities through internships, travel, networking with professors and students, and just plain old friendships that make college great. These things can change the course of your life. Do your best to make a decision that counts.
You’re Not Alone!
No matter what stage of the transferring process you’re in, don’t forget that we have a SUNY Ulster Transfer Office devoted to helping you succeed! Contact Kate Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, and stop by her office in Vanderlyn 128C to get help with any transfer problems or concerns you may be having.