Reverse Transfers a Growing Trend at CSM
“I quit, two weeks prior to the end of my first semester,” said Chris Donaldson, as he related his first attempt to attend college. So Donaldson packed his bags and headed to Los Angeles where he went through a series of schools and jobs, before landing a position as an interior designer.
“I worked there for two years doing everything from designing to installations. I was working six, 10-hour days. I was making good money but not compared to what I was bringing in for the business and my boss,” said Donaldson. “I decided that I wanted to apply the skills that I had developed in the workplace to a future business of my own, and to do that I was going to need to get my degree.”
Donaldson considered a number of institutions but finally chose to attend the College of Southern Maryland. “I had attended CSM briefly during high school so I knew what I was coming back to. I knew I needed a serene environment where I would be able to study and wouldn't be distracted,” said Donaldson, who now resides in Solomons.
Donaldson is but one of a growing number of students who are returning to community colleges such as CSM for their education. According to an American Association of Community Colleges study of National Center for Education Statistics, 32 percent of community college students had previously attended a four-year college.
“I came to CSM from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, P ennsylvania,” said Jason Kramer, a former CSM student and substitute teacher for St. Mary's County who transferred to West Virginia University in the fall. “In fact, I think it would have been a better idea to go to from high school to CSM first, as I really wasn't sure where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Now, after taking classes at CSM and working as a substitute teacher for St. Mary's County Public School's (mainly at Benjamin Banneker Elementary in a learning adjustment program (LAP) classroom), I am going to earn my bachelor's in elementary education and teach like my father, Dane, who works for Leonardtown Middle School,” said Kramer.
National education statistics show that 59 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges in 1999-2000 had attended two or more colleges prior to graduation, and that 8 percent had attended four or more. While students may attend community colleges due to location or a sense of “where else can I go,” for many others, attending multiple facilities has more to do with getting the best possible education for their money and time.
“One of the nice things about schools like CSM is that they afford you the means to create your own opportunities whether you are interested in business, art or mathematics,” said Donaldson. “I got to create a niche here on the campus that met my needs; I could be as active or inactive as I wanted to be. Personally, I wanted to create change and I knew I could do so at CSM because the campus was more manageable, there were fewer people to compete with, and I could use my creativity to make a big impact,” continued Donaldson, who participated in and often helped plan CSM's student government and student association activities.
“In my final semester,” said Kramer, “I was taking 13 credits and getting them out of the way at a very affordable price. I was taking classes in sociology and psychology and I was being inspired by teachers like Michael Maloney who teach in really unique ways. The instructors here have the time to really focus on and engage their students, because you are not in a classroom of 100, 200 or 300-plus. You are in a class of 30 and your teachers know your name, and they find ways to engage your interests or relate what you are learning to your future career goals,” Kramer continued.
One of the biggest concerns for transfer students, whether they are transferring into or out of a community college, is whether their credits will be accepted and applied towards the degree of their choice. To assist these students, schools such as CSM work with four-year colleges to establish articulation agreements to guarantee the transferability of credits for selected fields of study.
Nearly every transfer student, including Kramer and Donaldson, will stress preparation and homework to achieve a successful transfer. CSM's transfer services provide counseling and advice for students looking to transfer as well as resources, and career and academic advising.
For information call 301-934-7574 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7574, or 301-392-5493, Ext. 7574 or visit http://www.csmd.edu/StudentAdvising/TransferServices/.