When making the decision to transfer to a four-year college, there many considerations to worry about—orientation, registration, housing, class scheduling and making payments on time. In all of these cases, planning ahead is a must.
Planning is part of the two-year college process where students can fail, but it is important to stay organized with persistent long-term planning to prepare for transferring out credits.
Annie Duchek, UW Oshkosh’s transfer counselor, recommends planning out the four years’ worth of classes right after high school.
“I would say [start researching] as soon as possible. I’m seeing an increase of students meeting with me; they might be starting here at UW-Fox Valley next fall as freshmen and they’re meeting with me now to talk about what classes to be taking. I say, the sooner the better,” Duchek said.
“All students are different,” Tina Koch, the senior coordinator in student affairs and solution center adviser at UW-Fox Valley, said. “A lot of the times that’s why the freshman—sophomore years are so exciting, you learn a lot about yourself and hopefully you take a combination of classes that will point you into the right direction.”
Undecided students can still organize their schedules, too, said Duchek.
“A lot of students who are starting here don’t know their major. In those cases, it’s still helpful to meet with me, so we could limit the classes down.” Duchek said.
All the tools needed for transferring and planning are available at UW-Fox Valley.
Alexander Gordon, a student who spent his first year at UW Oshkosh, appreciated instructor assistance during his preparation at UW-Fox.
“I specifically thank Professor Jill Halverson. I knew every class I was going to take on this campus within the first two weeks of being here. As a business student, she kind of hinted at the best way of going about this thing. I think kids get stressed out looking at all the different classes they have to take—it’s a scary thing for students. Being able to plan things out, and see things ahead of time, is what the business faculty on this campus is great at doing,” Gordon said.
For students like Gordon, who have known their major since the age-of-sixteen, UW-Fox Valley is a great place to complete credits. Often, however, that’s not the case for students.
It’s typical for students to take a few semesters of college classes before they find whatever it is they enjoy learning about. In fact, as many as 50 percent of students enter colleges undecided, according to longstanding and upheld statistics from Virginia N. Gordon’s The Undecided College Student: An Academic and Career Advising Challenge.
Koch pointed to ideal times to declare a major and the importance of academic advising in the decision.
“In the perfect world, it would be around 30 credits. Every student has a story. Some students will come in and know exactly what they want to do. Some students get into a class and find out it’s not for them. That’s why the first two years of general education requirements are so important. You need to communicate with your counselors so we can give career advising. The average student will change his major three to four times. You come in with a preconceived notion but then when you get into the classes it may not be for you,” Koch said.
With about 80 percent of students in the United States changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s crucial to change majors realistically so you will be able to use those credits towards the new major.
It’s typical to hear cases at UW-Fox Valley like Sarah Ellisen’s, a student who started somewhere else but ended up at UW-Fox Valley with a different major.
“With the major I had, I took a lot of interdesign classes. So when I came here, I only had so many that transferred to gen. eds.. I’m not sticking with interior design for my major and the classes I took at High Point University were working towards that major,” Ellisen said.
Students who transferred from out-of-state colleges and changed their degree are looking at a longer time spent in college and in some cases a higher dropout rate.
According to The Community College Route to the Bachelor’s Degree, a study by David Monaghan and Paul Attewell at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, students who transfer 90 percent or more of their credits earned are 2.5 times more likely to graduate than those who transfer in less than 50 percent.
Most courses in the UW System, according to Duchek, will transfer to another UW institution in some shape or form, whether they fulfill general education or bachelor’s degree requirements, or simply serve as electives.
“The only exception would be developmental classes, usually fewer than a 100-level class. The biggest issue is whether the classes you’re taking here will work towards your major at your transfer school,” Duchek said.
Yes, those developmental classes, such as LEA 102 or 103, do not transfer out as credits. Still, there are some positives to those classes.
“We all start college at different points. Some students will need remedial class work—such as a learning skills class, remedial math, or English—the foundation classes you need to be successful. While they’re not earning credits, it’s setting up that foundation for success. So really I try to encourage students to take those classes because it’s an opportunity to make sure they have the research, reading and writing skills to be successful. College isn’t a race, it’s a marathon and we all start at different mile marks. It’s important that students have that info to be successful,” Koch said.
The Community College Pipeline from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) revealed that 45 percent of all students who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010–2011 were previously enrolled in a two-year college at some point.
Gordon compared his freshman year at UW Oshkosh with his time spent at UW-Fox Valley.
“When you walk through the front doors of UW-Fox Valley, [it feels like a] high school setting. I see some students approach it like their high school career or the time they spent in high school and I don’t think there’s a bigger mistake you could make as a college student—especially at a two-year,” Gordon said. “Some of them treat it as if it’s not as rigorous as a four-year because they don’t have huge dining hall, or huge library and college atmosphere. Is it different in its appearance? Absolutely. Is it different in content? I’d say it’s very much the same.”
Working alongside students at a four-year university is possible at UW-Fox Valley.
“The college of business requires you to attend a certain amount of club meetings before you can be admitted to the college of business because they want you to get that exposure. We invite students at UW-Fox Valley to come attend our meetings. That’s a way for us to help students get involved at UW Oshkosh organizations before they even start at UW Oshkosh,” Duchek said.
The clubs that you’re involved with at UW-Fox Valley can often meet the requirements of your transfer school.
“There’s a form online that you can fill out and take to the business club here, and someone will sign it and that will count towards the administration requirement for the college of business,” Dutchek said.
Students should be aware that in some cases. Depending on your major, it’s best to transfer out of UW-Fox Valley before two years.
“There are some majors that you need to research to make sure you’re taking the proper sequence of classing. For instance, at UW Oshkosh’s social work program they want their students down there, because of the three classes students need to take in order to get into the social work program. So you want to make sure you are transferring at the right time for that. If it’s for the best of a student, we’ll let them know,” Koch said.
UW-Fox Valley is a good fit for students like Ellisen.
“It [has] a smaller feel—some people say it’s like high school—but it’s what you make it. I wish I would have started here instead of going to High Point University. I think it’s smart money-wise and adjusting to college. Instead of going straight into college, leaving home, packing up all your things, leaving your family; whereas this gives you an idea of the workload and then you can move to college knowing what you’re getting into,” Ellisen said.
Reflecting on the time spent at UW-Fox Valley, Gordon is satisfied with his decision.
“I learned a lot about myself and a lot about people around me. I also learned about students who are pretty focused on getting to where they want to go. What’s cool about this campus is the diversity of students in different places in their life. I’ve meet 34-year-old women with five kids and I’ve met an 18-year-old that’s scared beyond belief of his Math 110 class. I’ve done really well here and it’s put me in a position to receive a scholarship. Overall, it was a really great experience,” Gordon said.