Having the Transfer Talk

Here are 3 tips on how to chat with students about community college

The first day of spring has passed and colleges around the country have sent out decision letters to eager high schoolers who are hoping to get into their first choice. Students have done their research by attending college fairs, open houses, classroom visits and sitting down with their college counselors to find their “perfect match” or “dream school.” But, the reality for many of these students is they might receive rejection letters.

Society teaches students that after finishing high school they must attend a 4-year college: it’s all over the media, movies, TV shows, and in teen books. Can you recall a popular movie in which the character continues to community college? I can’t. Which is sad because this is a cost-effective, viable option and an underutilized way to achieve a higher education degree.

Working for the past 3 years in transfer admissions, I’ve come across a full range of students looking to leap from community college to complete their bachelor degree. For high school counselors, it is important to introduce community college as an option at the earlier stages, especially for students who have been rejected by numerous 4-years.

Here are 3 tips on how to chat with students about community college:

1.     Break down the stigma: Society teaches us a lot, but not much about community college. Many see it as a negative, a fall back, and it’s up to high school counselors to change that perception. Steve Jobs, Morgan Freeman, Eddie Murphy, Clint Eastwood, and Walt Disney all started at community college and achieved great success. Start by inviting your local community colleges to campus. They will send representatives from their Admissions Office who will setup tables at fairs or speak in classroom visits. Starting this early can help you in the long run!

2.     Talk about transferring: Community College isn’t the end; in fact, it’s just the beginning. High School students often do not see this as they are blinded by the associates degree. Connect with community colleges and 4-years to discover the pathways open for students. Most local schools have articulation agreements with community colleges in which a student can do 2+2 programs to get their bachelor’s degree. Create a list of questions for students to use at your college fair and add questions about transfer credits, agreements, scholarships, and more.

3.     The money talk: Community College is cheaper and will allow for students to save money in the long run, plus they are receiving the same 2-year courses at CC that they would at their 4-year school. Most schools have students complete general education requirements the first two years in which they can achieve at CC. As an added bonus if students do academically well at CC, most 4-year schools offer transfer merit scholarships.

Cheers to you for everything you do to support student success and moral.  I’m sure this time of year is both rewarding and stressful as you juggle being happy for students who get accepted into their dream schools while comforting those who may not have received acceptance letters. How do you maintain this balance? I personally would be opening a bottle of wine each evening! High School Counselors are truly superheroes.


Austin has over 6 years of higher education experience working with transfer students, marketing of programs via social media, admissions, and enrollment management. He currently works for Ellucian as Enrollment Project Manager in which he supports their clients with enrollment success. He’s a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a BS degree in Business Management/Marketing. Austin also enjoys mental and physical feats and is always looking for something new to do. In the last two years, he summited Mount Kilimanjaro and completed the NYC Marathon supported by a local charity he has been involved with for several years, “New York Cares”.