Tip #1: Research which college is best suited for you
The cost of college is going to vary greatly on where you plan on attend. These monetary amounts only cover the basic tuition needs, and do not include special fees like lab fees, meal plans, etc.
Consider also location and flexibility. While the University of Bridgeport is more expensive, maybe you’d be saving on childcare, transportation, and more by attending there than commuting to Southern State University. Take into account how many credits the college will accept. Most 4-year schools will take up to 60 transfer credits. However, a school like Charter Oak College will take up to 90 transfer credits. That’s 30 extra credits that you could be taking at Housatonic or another community college that you will get at a reduced cost, or possibly free if you are receiving a Pell Grant.
Tip #2: Compare Financial Aid packages and negotiate with your schools
Why will schools do this? If another school is after a student, there must be promise and potential in that student. If you one day become a renowned individual in your field, that is free Marketing for the school. They will advertise your name and what you have accomplished. This in turn will attract students to the school, all for the cost of $0 to the school. Investing in your tuition could only help the college in the long-run.
Tip #3: Make sure you have all the required application materials
Some of these include:
- Application fee. You can have up to 4 college application fees waived by CONNTACT. Some colleges will also allow fee waivers as long as you provide evidence of financial challenge.
- Official transcripts from all institutions. Sometimes this includes high school transcripts, depending on the school. What makes a transcript official is when the envelope’s seal has not been broken. Once the envelope on the transcript has been opened, it is no longer official.
- Some schools require the high school SATs.
- Personal statement: this is what you will spend most of your time working on and perfecting. It is what is going to make you stand out from other applicants, because you get to share about yourself and your story, and why you deserve to be a part of their campus community.
- Completed application form.
- Recommendation letters from professors (usually 1-2).
- Other test scores, like the TEAS V for nursing students.
Tip #4: Check with schools what courses will and will not transfer.
Commonly, schools will not accept professional degree courses like Human Services, Psychology, Business, Early Childhood, Criminal Justice, Medical Assisting, Paramedic Studies, etc. They will accept courses that will fulfill your General Studies requirements, like History, Biology, English, Philosophy, Introductory Psychology, Math, and Art History.
Search for the college or university’s transfer equivalency software on their website. State schools have these readily available, whereas private schools you need to sit down with an advisor and ask specifically about the transfer agreement programs that they have.
Tip #5: Certificate Courses will not transfer
Any courses taken through a certificate program will not transfer to the 4-year school.
Tip #6: Developmental courses will not transfer
Any course that has a 0 before a number will not transfer. For example MAT 095, ENG 055, etc.
Moreover, be careful of what the minimum requirement is for coursework for a program. For example, an engineering student at the 4-year school is expected to take a minimum of Calculous I for their Math requirement. Even though other programs at the school will take College Algebra, that course will not be transferred if the student is enrolled in a program that requires a higher course as the minimum requirement.
Tip# 7: Get to know your professor’s at HCC
Your professors have been to college before, so they know professors from their institutions, colleagues and former classmates who work at other institutions. They can always put in a good word for you, so it’s important that you make that effort to network with your professors.
Tip #8: Go visit your college or university of interest and meet with the head of your program
Applications are what administrators see all the time. But meeting someone in person can make or break your potential at a school. Try to set up an appointment with the head of the program that you plan on meeting with. Tell them about your aspirations and interest in the school. Make sure you bring your unofficial transcript and resume so you can show what a dedicated student you are.
Why is it important to meet with the head of program? They’re the ones who are in the know for scholarships specifically for their program. If they find you are an excellent candidate for the program, they may slip you a few application secrets.