I am a non-traditional college student who has transferred. Currently, I am a full-time paralegal, part-time fitness instructor and single Mom to two girls ages 15 and 12.
I graduated high school in 1984 (anyone remember George Orwell?) and the first college I attended was Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1985. Skidmore College was a small, Ivy League-ish, personal college where everyone knew each other and your professor called you by name. I spent a year there as a Pre-Law Major (Political Economy). As much as I tried to like it, the weather (a lot of snow) and the distance from home (3 ½ hours away) was not for me. I wanted to pursue a career in dance and at 19, it was then or never.
When I finally decided to return to college, it was almost 10 years later in 1994. I had no idea what to expect, but by this time I was working full-time and wanted to obtain a degree to advance my career. Things had changed immensely—everything was starting to become virtual and some online classes were offered. I needed flexibility and chose Temple University, the exact antithesis of Skidmore. At Temple, I was a number rather than a name, until I finally chose a major.
The transfer process itself was quite smooth for me. Having attended another college, I needed to request transcripts from my high school and college to apply to Temple University. Since they were both small schools, I was able to call and speak to a person who forwarded my transcripts.
At Temple, I had an advisor whom I met with who reviewed my courses and decided what would transfer in from my one year of classes at Skidmore: English class, some French courses, and a good amount of core courses. I was satisfied with how I was treated and the credit I was given. I was not treated differently, nor did anyone at Temple realize I was a transfer because the school itself is so large and diverse!
I created a course schedule around my work and personal training by utilizing online and night courses as needed. I was able to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience in four years at Temple University; I graduated in May of 1999.
I hit a bigger glitch when I wanted to apply to graduate school. I wanted to continue my studies with a research-oriented, psychology focus and I had not taken enough science courses to strengthen my applications. I was left with the dilemma of returning to Temple University for a year to take science courses and re-apply to grad school, or getting a job. For personal reasons, I chose a job — I stayed in the legal field but was promoted in my field because I had a bachelor’s degree.
After working for a couple years in the legal field, I got married, had children, and took some time off from work.
I decided to attend Manor College, and again, it was to advance or help my career. I had been out of the legal field since 2002; with the economy drop and the technological advancements in the field, I needed to update my credentials.
Because I already had a bachelor’s degree, I did not transfer to Manor. I applied to their certificate program, so there were no courses to transfer.
The hardest part of this experience was that once you have a bachelor’s degree, post-bachelor work (even if I decided to enroll in an extra year of science at Temple in the 90’s) is all loans! Grants and aid aren’t available for post-bachelor work. So, I will be paying loans for quite some time.
Therefore, my advice is:
- Pay attention to what courses you are taking and have a plan!
- Tailor your courses to your career interests and make sure you take what classes you need, should you decide to go to graduate school or need further training. For example, I would have taken more hands-on science courses if I knew I needed them!
- Don’t count on academic advising to know what you want to do. You need to tell them so that they can help you tailor your course load, especially as you declare a major and minor.
– Mary Jo Fronckel Bell
I grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania and attended Mid Valley Secondary Center. I attended Skidmore College right out of high school and transferred to Temple University several years later to complete my bachelor’s degree. I majored in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience. I worked as a Legal Assistant and pursued my passion for fitness as an instructor and personal trainer.
After getting married and having two children, I obtained a Certificate in Paralegal Studies at Manor College and currently work as a Paralegal. I still teach fitness in Philadelphia, enjoy sharing my love for education, and staying in shape with my two daughters!