The Price Needs to Be Right, or Be Able To Ship to My Casa
Hey everyone! I recently mentioned in my previous post how I wanted to discuss transitioning and being in college. I planned on writing this article today in spirit of anyone and everyone who’s had a major life event happening while they’re in school or dealing with transferring. Mine currently happens to be moving to another country. Yes, another country- not another city, or even a state. I know mine’s a bit extreme for a lot of people, but I also am a military wife, which many who would be reading this article can relate to. Whatever your branch is, home is wherever (insert the armed forces branch that applies) takes you, and you have no choice. Now, I am in my senior year, and I will these next two semesters and a summer class left before I obtain my bachelor’s. I have transferred from a community college to a university, and in the midst of our PCS to Germany, so I wanted to share some experience and tips for anyone struggling. The following will be tips from my own experiences, and guidance for y’all who might be stuck.
Topic One: Transferring Colleges
Whether you’re an 17-18 baby faced gal/guy whose ready to embrace “the real world”, older and already been through more life experiences than 80% of the student population or in between and trying to get back into the swing, everyone’s first experience of college is scary alone. I remember mine as an 18 year old paying for the associates first, and even though I was in my local community still, I didn’t really know anyone at my community college. I was able to establish myself and graduated with honors, a new brood of friends and networked to success for my next endeavor. Even though I was transferring to the University of Louisville, I was even more nervous than the first time, because I was starting all over again.
Now, the following tips would have helped me as a freshman attending a major university for the first time, so I’ll share them with you. Though a lot of this was going off experience, I can tell you this isn’t specified for a particular problem, but a generalization.
- Before transferring, do your research. There are three parts:
- Credit completion & acceptance: One thing I’ve discovered from going to two colleges now is that students don’t ask the questions that could prevent major issues. One of the biggest dramas of college transferring is credit completion and acceptance. Now, if you are going from community college to university, I recommend obtaining your associates first. I stress this, because if you don’t, you are going to be in the same situation as a person who has gone from university to university. Colleges like to play a tit-for-tat game, and for everyone I’ve known to go through this issue, the average amount of credits lost is a whole semester’s worth. Not only is this discouraging and makes you question why you even tried, it’s not fair for your record as well. You’re being penalized by a college, for not taking their course.
- How to avoid: Before transferring or even applying, talk to a guidance counselor at your potential school, and see what they discuss regarding your program(s) of interest and how your transcript is analyzed. With my associates and dual credit classes from high school (from another college), the University of Louisville accepted 63 out of 66 credits. The reason 3 credits AKA one class was rejected was it was considered a technical class.
- Bonus tips for vets: When talking to the college representative, bring up your military service and obtain a transcript of your schools you completed while in service. Many colleges are military friendly, and will transfer those credits as classes applied towards your degree.
- Campus tours: Before committing yourself like a D1 athlete and realizing you need to uncommit or trade out to another college, take a tour of your chosen campus. As a student at your current college, you had to explore your surroundings to uncover your natural environment. Though the tour guide was a student at your former college, you only had the general view. To get to buildings that had classes in it or important information, I bet you still had to use a map or word of mouth to get there. This same process applies to the new college, and even more so, I would investigate even harder.
- If you’re going to be commuting, I would even explore the area around the campus and outside. Why? Since you’re a commuter, you will be living around, but not on the holy soil that claims the fame. You should be able to enjoy your surroundings, and get the gist of what is going on. For my experience, I lived on campus, but explored the area of downtown Louisville and neighborhoods a week before I officially started. Not only will you know where to go Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday & Thursday and/or other combinations, but you will become comfortable and more relaxed.
- Activities, volunteering and lifestyle: Before transferring to Louisville, I wanted to be in a sorority to branch out. At my old college in Elizabethtown, I was a part of the Student Ambassador program, an honor society and worked a job my entire college career there. Instead, it worked out where I couldn’t because I didn’t realize recruitment happened before school, and when I finally found a sorority that wanted to become established on campus, my life changed dramatically AKA I met my husband and decided we will end up together, so I saved my dues for marriage. I had friends in sororities giving me advice, but I ended up having an active social life not based off of activities, but more so because I’m naturally social. However, I recommend all activities, volunteering, Greek life and anything else dealing with the social scene at colleges, because you can not only network, but you will form friendships and connections with people who are in a similar state as you. Though I was raised Jewish and now Christian, I would attend my roommate’s Muslim Student Association, and while the food was native to me and delicious, I met some amazing friends and people. Also, me being my gym rat self, I activity went to my university’s recreation center and worked out. Incorporating normal workouts and machines with my routine, I also started to attend free classes that interested me, including belly dancing, barre and turbo kick. Not only will you meet friends, but I feel once you find an activity, group of friends, hobby, etc, you become more confident and grow as a person. I knew that every Tuesday/Thursday, my barre instructor would kick my butt and every Wednesday was a girl party in belly dancing. Invest your time in activities you find worth it, and go full force.
- Here are a few more tips
- Fill out every scholarship you can. Seriously, nothing beats free money. Google scholarships on your school’s site, and even ask the counselors. There are a lot of scholarships that go unclaimed each year, because no one applies, because no one knows! I had a friend who was getting practically a stipend to attend our community college, because she applied for all the scholarships and won all.
- Take advantage of events with free food. I can’t stress this anymore. Though I had flex points AKA money on my student card to spend on meals, I was also a poor student, trying to get married. Even when you already had your meal, just drop by. Most of these types have an educational aspect or charity concept, so you don’t have to free guilty about mooching.
- Get your school’s app. Believe it or not, most colleges/universities have an app for their websites. The majority is realizing that their student bodies are significantly intertwined with their social media, and want to ride the bandwagon. I recommend Googling your school and put “app” with the search.
- Take advantage of your TAs. Teacher’s assistants (TAs) are typically master and doctorate students who are working for your professor to complete their degrees, either on a full ride and stipend, or a part of the requirements in their program. I am a psychology major and had TAs for all my psychology classes last semester. While my classes were rather large, the TAs were probably the kindest people I’ve met in education. Most will hold review sessions before tests, meet with you if you’re polite through email and love sharing their knowledge. BE appreciative and become friends. I become close with several TAs and I can tell you my improvements in classes were drastic.
- Finally, time management is a must. As a person who worked and went to school for 2 years straight and graduated with honors, I can say it’s a difficult process, especially when you have to change it for another university. When I went to Louisville, I had to drop my job for a while and adjust. I won’t lie- I went crazy, had a great social life and did decent in college. However, I was disappointed, cracked down the next semester (while getting married and in the Army’s system, along with their examinations) and did much better. You need discipline, because most of us in college are balancing multiple things. Keep a calendar/planner, and write all your activities/classes down, along with homework, exams and projects. One good tip is if you get your syllabus early, make sure you write down the dates. It will keep you ahead of the game and on top of your current overwhelming schedule.
Now, with part 2.
Military Spouse and School/Life Tips
Okay, I am one of those wives who was a student before and after my husband/spouse/sponsor. I happened to be a junior when we met, last summer exactly, and am still good with this game. I will say though, as a person who was surrounded by Fort Knox but not on it, I was unfamiliar with the system with military spouses and their education opportunities. With this, I have some tips, especially if you’re in the middle of PCSing like myself. I know that a lot of women pick online school for the convenience and stability compared to in person, and having to move, but there are cons with this as well.
- Research the online school before you apply. I have noticed that a lot of military spouses are into the online age with school, and can’t blame them. Though I’m going through U of L, I’m doing distance learning for my senior year. I know of some popular Internet based college/universities/programs and not only were they not accredited, but jobs won’t accept the degree because they don’t even claim it as an education. Not only is this not fair to the spouse, but it’s fraudulent of the college. Look at reviews and dig up information on it first.
- Tip: Whatever your state resident reigns from, look at those schools and see if there happens to be distance learning/online classes. Not only would it help you on a degree, but also lower your rates per credit hour since you’re considered a resident. In fact, if you decide to go off a college that’s not of your resident, see if they discount for military and their families. For example, my husband attends an online university when he can, and he gets a major discount of 75% off. I have looked into a master’s program, and they will let me pay less than what I do at my current college per credit hour, due to my affiliation with the military.
- FASFA, scholarships, grants. Apply, apply, apply. I promise you, our men aren’t making much money, and it screams it after your FAFSA. Don’t get me wrong- I genuinely am in love with my husband, and appreciate him daily. I don’t have to work in his MOS thankfully, and am more than willing to let him own his rank. However, I can’t lie: I was ecstatic when FAFSA and my college agreed to pay me in 5 different grants. Almost every college will have a list of scholarships of their own, and like above, research and apply.
- Tip: Go to your base’s education center and talk to a counselor. Thanks to one I spoke with, she gave me a 4 page list of scholarship sites. If you’re looking at an associates, certification or anything of this nature, apply for MYCAA. It will cover your tuition, but not books.
- Acclimate your purchases/choices off of your duty station. To me, this is kind of common sense, but some people still wonder. If you’re going to be at your duty station for awhile, it’s a safe bet you can do whatever college plans. If not, prepare and think of alternatives. For example, I love to order books from online websites. I grab my list, type up the ISBNs and go to town. However, a lot of sites like Chegg will not deliver to APO addresses, which are overseas duty stations. Now, with my own research, I have discovered Half does- it even tells you which part you’ll enter for each section, and what corresponds. Be diligent and thorough, but keep an open mind as well.
Finally, my last tip is to be honest. Ask for help. Be willing to get advice, and listen to your help.
Thank you for your time! Sorry this is way lengthier than others, but I was trying to cram two sections into one. If you have any tips, let me know!