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Schools Transferring from a 2 year college to a 4 year university

  1. Apr 7, 2009 #1
    I've got a few questions related to transferring to a 4 year university from my community college. After the fall semseter, I'll have 60 credits, which is enough for my general studies associate's degree. That would give me "priority admission" to Towson University, which is where I intend on getting my bachelors.

    I have two options. One, I can graduate in the fall, and then see about transferring to Towson in the spring. This may be problematic, because most of the orientation and such is geared towards people starting in a fall semester. I also believe that financial aid goes from fall semester through fall semester. If I apply to start in the spring, will it cause a big paperwork hassle?

    The other option is to ride it out at community college for one more semester (and then I'd get to call it an Astronomy degree rather than General Studies), and start at Towson in the fall like a normal human being.

    I'm actually running out of worthwhile classes to take at community college. Many of the upper level (for a community college, that is), such as General Physics 3, Calc 3, and Diff Eq are often canceled due to lack of interest. My physics professor told me that they haven't run a Physics 3 course at the community college in the past decade. So, if I were to hang around one extra semester, I wouldn't likely be taking any classes related to my major, so I'd have to keep up on the material on my own so I don't get rusty.

    On the other hand, I could use that "extra" semester to build up my GPA on some gen ed courses, for scholarship purposes.

    Anybody have any thoughts or comments? I'm not necessarily looking for a definitive answer, but any kind of feedback, suggestions, et cetera, would be appreciated. Is there anything I should be asking myself that I haven't thought of?

    Edit: Oh, one other question... Can I assume that it doesn't really matter at all if my Associate's Degree is in "General Studies" or "Astronomy?" It's the bachelors that really matters, right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2009 #2
    Related question: Do grad schools look down on people who started at community college?
  4. Apr 7, 2009 #3
    The graduate admissions that I've been involved in where very mathematical (where variables such as undergraduate rank, GPA's, GRE's, and reader score from recommendations, etc, were all factored in via a formula that spit out a ranked list of students with their numerical "score"). In cases of multiple institutions -- including cases of transfer (from community college or from one college to another) or multiple degrees (Assoc. + BS, or BS+MS), the last educational institution and degree was used for the formula. Where things get tricky is how this stuff effects the reader score (where in our case was an average of scores from three or more readers, with maximum score of 10 and minimum of 0). I think most would consider and weight your coursework at the last institution, though this isn't guaranteed. I think if they saw "astronomy" as an associate's degree that they might view that favorably over "general studies," but I'm not sure how much that would change their score (in my case maybe a half point?.. and that was if I KNEW there was a choice there, which is pretty doubtful). Of course this is my experience; perhaps some schools don't use such a mathematical process.

    Some factors to consider...
    1) Would transferring early allow you the chance to meet faculty and possible get a research job in one of their labs? You could possibly even use the "lack of student orientation" to your advantage as an excuse to meet faculty. Though hopefully you don't feel like there's a need for an excuse. (P.S. I met Harry Bates of Towson at an AAPT conference and he is very personable.)

    2) Are you at the stage yet where you could be taking some of the intermediate physics courses (especially any that aren't offered at your CC)? Taking intermediate courses now of course allows you the chance to take more upper levels or have more research time later. In our case (and probably most schools) upper level coursework and research experience are weighted heavily in the admissions process reader score.

    Those are the main reasons I can see to transfer earlier rather than later -- research and coursework opportunities. If you're at a point where these are possibilities... then I'd transfer now, rather than later. It sounds like at your stage, your could be reaching a dead-end in coursework... and you don't want that to happen.
  5. Apr 7, 2009 #4
    I don't think either research or coursework opportunities are possibilities for me right now. I'm only in my first semester of calculus-based physics at the moment (Newtonian physics, basically), and I'll be taking the second semester (thermodynamics, E&M, etc) in the Fall. I don't think that would qualify me for any intermediate coursework until I finish the 3rd semester of general physics, but I could be wrong about that. Honestly, I'm not sure how the intermediate courses fit in with the general overview courses.

    As I mentioned, the 3rd semester of physics almost never runs due to lack of interest.

    As for the astronomy vs the general studies associate's: The astronomy degree will have a few classes which don't really transfer into the program at Towson. If I did go for my extra semester, I could do one of two things... I could take Physical Geology and Oceanography (which won't really transfer) to make my degree an Astronomy degree, or I could take General Chemistry 2 and a gen ed course or two that will transfer, and just keep it as a "General Studies" associate's.

    In either case, I don't think I'm quite ready for intermediate courses or research just yet. I could be wrong about that, though. I just don't think two semesters of general physics will be enough without the 3rd semester in the set of classes.
  6. Apr 7, 2009 #5
    I had the experience that when I transferred from a community college to a university, the GPA didn't transfer over...so boosting your GPA should probably not be the only reason for sticking it out the extra semester but you might want to check on your community college and Towson.

    I doubt it would be too much hassle to transfer in the spring but I would just recommend just staying at the community college and finishing off the degree then going in the fall. You could even use the summer for prep if you were so inclined. Remember that university coursework is generally tougher than community college.

    As for graduate admissions looking down on community college transferees.....I've never even heard of such a thing...some universities will just ask for transcripts of last university attended, others will ask for all colleges attended but even at that, where you went to school should be just a negligible part in a bunch of criteria that graduate committees will take into account during the process.
  7. Apr 7, 2009 #6
    My understanding us while the GPA as a whole doesn't transfer, the credits I DO transfer over will be counted for GPA at the university.

    I'm actually looking forward to some challenging coursework, because I'm tired of having the classes slowed to a snail's pace for the dumb students. That's one reason I like online classes... I can ace a 3 credit class, and only do 2 hours of work per week, if even that.

    Boosting GPA aside, the university has more gen ed requirements than the CC, so my spring 2010 semester could be used to knock a few cakewalk classes out of the way before transferring.
  8. Apr 8, 2009 #7


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    You're correct, in the end only a bachelors matters. Whether or not you get the associates degree in 'something' such as astronomy or not doesn't really matter. Unless you hope to pursue the astronomy job route later on in life, and obtain your bachelors in something else - say engineering...

    Your transferring to a uni from a CCollege is the same thing that happened to me. In my opinion you should get your butt out of there as quick as you can.

    Honestly, I did not even get awarded the degree at my old CC because of failing two courses not relevant to my degree but I'm not really worried because of the circumstances... e.g failing spanish 101 but passing spanish 102 and 202? huh?

    I'm not saying go and fail some courses but just don't worry too much of your CC record just do very well in uni.
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