MCCC Director of Transfer Services Laurene Jones and Transfer Counselor Jennifer Cook moderated a panel in Spring 2014 with five MCCC alumni who returned to campus to talk with current students about their own transfer experiences, their transition to four-year colleges and tips for success. The five agreed that not only is transfer possible, it’s relatively easy with careful planning and advisement.
Panelists included graduating seniors Michael DiPersio, who completes his bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Rutgers University; Ayodele (Ayo) Kanyako, who completes her Social Work degree at Temple University; Vitoria Lorenzetti, who completes her Advertising Design degree at The City University of New York; and Kaitlyn Springsteen, who completed a double major in Elementary Education/English at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Mark Pratico earned his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education/English at Rider University in December and has completed his first semester as a graduate student studying Organizational Leadership in Education.
Here's what they had to say:
Why Did You Choose Mercer?
Ayo: Money was the key factor. It was a place that would help me meet my career goals.
Kaitlyn: It was less expensive and allowed me to knock out core classes. It was a great way to start.
Mark: I admit that I didn’t work as hard as I should have in high school. At Mercer I was able to grow and develop the skills I would need at a four-year school. I played soccer too and I matured as an athlete.
Mike: I was an NJSTARS student, so my tuition was free.
Vitoria: I was an international student coming from Brazil and it was affordable.
What skills did you learn at Mercer?
Ayo: I learned critical thinking, problem-solving and multi-tasking. I worked while going to school.
Kaitlyn: I learned time management skills.
Mark: I got used to juggling so many things – school, work, sports. At Rider, everything is centralized. Certain things have been easier there, especially with my preparation at Mercer.
Mike: I learned to go to class! Rutgers is less hands-on with attendance, but at Mercer going to class is stressed and it’s important!
Vitoria: In addition to my studies, I ran cross country. I learned to manage it all – academic work, clubs and the team.
What transfer challenges did you face?
Ayo: It was challenging transferring from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Temple did not want to accept all my credits. I had to show my Mercer course content to the Social Work Department. In the end, I only had to take one additional course.
Kaitlyn: TCNJ is based on four-credit classes. MCCC is three credits per class. Technically, you transfer a little behind, but it also depends on your major.
Mark: It was a mental game for me. Am I going to be able to do it? You need to step back and say that you can do it and you will do it. If you are proactive, it’s seamless.
Mike: It was not complicated to transfer to Rutgers. The hardest part was learning to navigate their website. It’s a big school. You have to decide where you will live – which campus? off-campus?
Vitoria: As an international student, meeting the transfer deadline was difficult. I ran into problems with paperwork. I should have started planning earlier.
Are you living on campus at your transfer school?
Ayo: I commute to Philadelphia from New Jersey.
Kaitlyn: I live off campus in Ewing, but I’m close to campus. I am there all the time.
Mark: I live at home and commute, but spend my entire day at Rider. There are plenty of ways to get involved in campus life. I am an assistant soccer coach at Mercer so I still spend time at the West Windsor campus.
Mike: I live in an apartment in New Brunswick near the College Avenue Campus. There is a bus system that connects the campuses. It’s very convenient and runs frequently. As an older student, I prefer living off campus.
Vitoria: I live in New York City, very convenient to campus.
When did you start planning for transfer?
Ayo: I started planning after one year at Mercer. As a resident of Pennsylvania, I learned that it would be more economical for me to transfer to a Pennsylvania school.
Kaitlyn: I knew I wanted to transfer from the beginning. I followed the Liberal Arts guidelines carefully.
Mark: I was accepted to Rider out of high school, but I wanted to play soccer at Mercer. I was fine with coming here. I knew my direction and I was very focused.
Mike: I started planning from the day I walked in the door at Mercer. I was originally accepted to RU, but could not afford it.
Vitoria: I started planning for transfer two semesters ahead. I should have started earlier.
Did you use MCCC Transfer Services?
Ayo: Yes, Transfer Services was very helpful. I knew it would be challenging transferring out of New Jersey. I changed my major to make sure more credits would transfer. I attended a same-day transfer session at Temple and I was in. My academic advisor was faculty member Denise Ingram, who made sure that I took required courses when they were offered, since not every course is offered every semester. We had regular two-way communication. I graduated on time.
Kaitlyn: My academic advisor was Education Professor Theresa Capra. She kept me on track. She was very helpful.
Mark: I visited Transfer Services every semester. I would pull out my check list. I understand the value of that and now work in Admissions at Rider, where I advise graduate and transfer students. Mike: MCCC students should visit Transfer Services. It’s hard to do on your own. They want to hear from you and they want to help you succeed. You will be surprised how much better you will feel about transfer.
Vitoria: Once I made the decision to transfer, I was there every week! They were very helpful, especially in helping me do my resume.
Have you faced advisement challenges at your transfer school?
Ayo: I have relied on my academic advisor, who told me the classes I needed to graduate on time. I will graduate in a few weeks.
Mark: I had two advisors at Rider – one for each major. I had a check list similar to what I had at Mercer. I had similar positive experiences at both schools.
Mike: At RU, you must seek out your academic advisor.
Vitoria: Meeting the deadline was difficult. I ran into problems with paperwork as an international student. I should have started planning for transfer earlier.
Did your transfer school have an orientation session?
Ayo: Temple had a special orientation, where I met professors and other transfer students.
Kaitlyn: At TCNJ there was an orientation over the summer just for transfer students. Those of us majoring in English Education had an introductory seminar during the first semester.
Mark: Rider offers orientations over the summer. There is also “Have a Student for a Day,” which pairs you up with a current student. There are campus tours. They do a lot to make you feel welcome.
Mike: RU had a special day for orientation. If you have a friend there, I suggest buddying up for a day.
Vitoria: They held a meeting for transfer students and took us on a tour. It was very helpful.
What safety measures are in place at your transfer school?
Ayo: Temple is in the city. This is a system for email and text alerts. Temple has its own police and also relies on city police. There are escorts at night to and from classes or the library.
Kaitlyn: There are plenty of security officers, as well as an alert system. We use swipe cards to get into buildings.
Mark: At Rider, you must show an i.d. to enter buildings after 8 p.m. There is a student escort service that will pick you up after night classes. There is R-Alert, similar to Mercer’s M-Alert.
Mike: New Brunswick is a city environment. You must take appropriate precautions.
Vitoria: My school is in New York City. I take precautions. I don’t walk by myself after midnight.
What are your plans after graduation?
Ayo: I hope to get a job in community development and also attend graduate school.
Kaitlyn: I hope to get a job teaching elementary school.
Mark: I enjoyed student teaching, but I really like working in admissions. Higher Ed admissions is my path.
Mike: It’s open-ended at the moment. I hope to attend grad school eventually.
Vitoria: I will look for my dream job in an ad agency. I hope my internship will help with that.
Do you have advice for current MCCC students? Anything you would have done differently?
Ayo: Use Mercer’s transfer office and see your academic advisor. Take honors classes if you can; the ones I took really prepared me for four-year school.
Kaitlyn: Sometimes it can take more than two years to get your associate degree. Keep pushing towards your goal.
Mark: Make the most of your time at Mercer. Take advantage of opportunities. Find the people who want to help you. Grow while you are here.
Mike: Do internships. Get involved in clubs. Make yourself known to teachers.
Vitoria: Plan ahead. It’s never too early to think about transfer. It can be more complicated at some schools and in other states. Start developing good study habits at Mercer.