Transitioning from community college to university

By Caitlyn Muller, Stockton University graduate

My college experience started at a community college formerly known as Cumberland County College (CCC) in Vineland. It’s now known as Rowan College of South Jersey, Cumberland Campus. I attended CCC on a New Jersey School Counts! Scholarship, earning 64 credits and receiving an associate degree in liberal arts/ social sciences.

I initially wanted to pursue my studies in psychology. As I began the process of transferring to a four-year university, I realized my true passion was for the classroom. I decided to switch to the field of education.

When deciding on which university to transfer to, I had many worries: Will my associate degree help me in the field of education? How will all my credits transfer into the education program? Is my associate degree worthless now that I switched majors? Do I have to repeat courses that I completed at CCC? Is it too late for me to switch my major going into my junior year of college? I struggled with plenty of stress and anxiety over graduating from a community college and transferring to a university. I also stressed over changing my career path.

I am the first in my immediate family to attend a university, so this process was brand new to me with a lot of uncertainty and risk. To further educate myself on the transfer process, I researched the course catalogs of several local universities and used their websites as a resource. Through research, I pieced together how my associate degree would fit into different bachelor’s degree programs.

I discovered I could make appointments with the Center for Academic Advising at Stockton University. I met with an adviser to understand my options. The adviser answered all my questions regarding the programs. The adviser illuminated how valuable my associate degree was upon entering Stockton. All my courses transferred over into my new major:

B.A. in Psychology with a Concentration in Education. Thus, I was able to fulfill my interest in psychology and obtain my teaching license.

At Stockton, I continued research in psychology labs running inferential and descriptive statistic tests based on social- psychological topics related to education. I was also accepted into the teacher preparation program where I spent two years observing classrooms and student teaching.

Walking into the world of education felt like whiplash—but in a good way! There was plenty to learn and plenty of steps to determine if teaching was the right career path for me. This came in the form of clinical practice courses, Praxis exams and the edTPA portfolio. I spent four and a half years in college for a total of nine semesters. Considering I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology along with my teaching license, it was well worth the extra semester at Stockton.

There was an enormous difference between my community college experience and my university experience, but both were very valuable in making me who I am today. At community college I obtained all the general knowledge and finished all required courses needed for any bachelor’s degree. By the time I reached Stockton, I was taking courses that were directly related to my field of study. It was a huge change and it felt scary at times, but I am proud of all that I accomplished throughout and beyond the transfer process.

Advice for transferring

  • Explore university course catalogs.
  • Talk to an adviser.
  • Research required exams and portfolios, such as Praxis and edTPA.
  • Be attentive about what courses to take in community college to ensure they transfer to your preferred university.
  • Do not be afraid to switch your major.
  • Follow your own timeline in your college experience.

What I wished I’d known

  • Seminar courses are required courses for most degrees.
  • Minors are obtainable along with degrees and certificates.
  • Obtaining multiple endorsements with the teaching license provides specialization in multiple grade levels/subjects.
  • Praxis study material and edTPA handbook manuals are significant to succeeding.
  • There are many educational organizations available to join.