Illustration by Genesis Fuentes

Illustration by Genesis Fuentes

 

 

By Lucia Rubi Godoy, Online Editor

Bergen Community College has been recognized two years in a row for its high graduation rates. However, one thing that many students don’t take into consideration until they are almost done with their Associate’s degree is, “what happens after Bergen?”

Many of the students that we see during every commencement plan to pursue much more than an Associate’s Degree. Transferring to a four-year university is not a process completely detached from what we accomplish during our time at BCC.

For several reasons, transferring should be on the minds of the students from the moment they enter community college, whether or not they know what they’re going to do after graduating.

1. Maintaining Good Grades
One of those reasons is their grade point average (GPA). A common misconception amongst many students, is that grades don’t matter much because they are still only at BCC. Wrong. This is only applicable for students fresh out of high school, who get a second chance at rebuilding their GPA once they arrive at BCC. Once a student transfers, this is not the case, which is why one should be sure to work hard from the beginning. Most four-year universities have higher GPA standards, and this means that performing poorly at your community college, will lessen your chances at ending up at the university you want to attend.

2. Creating The Best Resume
Another reason to stay on top of your game from the beginning, is your resume. A strong resume will increase your chances of getting accepted into your dream school. Getting involved in clubs and/or organizations bolster your resume and universities like to see students who have gotten involved. BCC has an average of 60 active clubs and organizations every semester, so not being able to find something you like, is not an excuse. Many scholarships also take into consideration, not only your GPA, but your community and social involvement as well; leadership positions and hours of community service and volunteering are looked at when the time to pick a recipient comes.

3. Fill Paperwork, Get Aid
Scholarships and financial aid are a privilege, not a right. Filling out applications and following up with the necessary paperwork for financial aid may be tedious, and confusing, but nobody is going to do it for you. It may sound unbelievable, but there are people in community college who do not receive financial aid because “the application was too complicated.” Students will miss out on the opportunity to get money to pay for their classes, because they did not want to put in a few hours of work to figure out how. This is why we have the financial aid office and workshops, where students and other staff members can facilitate the process, or at least guide you through it. Scholarships are the same. You put in the time and effort, apply to as many as you can, and maybe receive some. But if you don’t apply, you are guaranteed to get none. According to usnews.com, approximately 1 percent of college freshmen receive full financial aid. Unfortunately, this is nowhere near the number of students who need it. Thankfully, some four-year schools offer tuition waivers based on different needs that would cover part of the student’s tuition.

4. Avoid Debt For Bachelor’s
Another aspect related monetarily to transferring, is the cost of the schools. This should not be the only criterion by which you choose your four-year school, but it is important to have in mind student debt and how much of your costs financial aid will realistically cover. Always have in mind that students who live out of state, pay higher rates. If you are planning on pursuing your education even further, really consider postponing that Ivy League for when you reach your Master’s Degree or PhD. This is not to discourage anyone from attending Ivy Leagues, but students should keep in mind that the potential debt that can be accumulated from attending a state university is certainly different from the debt a student would accumulate from attending an ivy league, and that this is a debt that you may possibly want to postpone until you reach the higher periods of your education, or avoid altogether. Student debt is no joke. Many of our generation’s parents are still dealing with their student debt; it’s a headache that can potentially haunt you for a very long time. According to the website ticas.org, 69 percent of graduating seniors in 2014 had student loan debts of approximately $30,000 per borrower.

Consider factors such as distance, size of the school, number of students, and most importantly, the quality of the program or major that you want to pursue. There is no secret formula to finding the perfect school. It is highly recommended to visit schools of choice for open house tours, and to make appointments with your transfer counselors (take advantage of the resources offered in your school). They have the knowledge and quick access to information, like what programs are offered at other schools, requirements and application deadlines.

A good idea is to visit a transfer counselor as soon as you have an idea of what your major should be, or even when you feel you need some information regarding the future. They can provide all the information mentioned above, and help you figure out exactly what requirements you need to complete in order to graduate. Also, visit an academic counselor, they are where it’s at if you need someone to help you distribute your requirements in your remaining semesters.