Ten New Jersey Public Colleges Send A Message: Please Come Home
The idea has good intentions. Some appear doable, including a streamlined application process and guaranteed acceptance of credits. Others, like scholarships and guaranteed housing are left to the individual colleges. William Paterson University was the most aggressive about this, although Stockton University mentions a flat rate for as many as 20 credits. There is also a mention of community service opportunities. But only one school, The College of New Jersey, mentions that community service is optional. None of these schools has reported on their plans to re-open their campuses in the fall.
Our state schools have never marketed this way before. But these are strange times, and these marketing practices are now considered to be acceptable. At the start of the school year th US Department of Justice (USDOJ) pressured the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to remove “anti poaching” provisions from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practices. These provisions prevented college admissions from marketing to students who had already deposited or enrolled at another college. NACAC agreed to comply with the USDIJ’s requests. My friend, Elizabeth LaScala, founder of Doing College-and Beyond biased in Northern California, has more about how NACAC’s decision impacts students who had considered applying to colleges through Early Decision. But here I’ll cover questions that must be asked about a New Jersey initiative.
I’m good with New Jersey public colleges making overtures to ask residents to come home. These schools will likely be less expensive than the out of state options these students chose the first time. The collective decision of these ten New Jersey public colleges will likely force students and parents to reconsider their current school. But prospective transfer, aka “returning,” students and their families need to do some homework. They must get the answers to these questions:
- Can I transfer into the degree program I want? The College of New Jersey was specific. It cannot accept transfers in to Health and Exercise Science, Nursing, Psychology, and Special Education programs. Other schools were not. Be sure to ask, especially if you want to transfer into programs like these, Accounting or Engineering, among others.
- Will I still graduate on time? The colleges may accept all of the credits earned at the out-of-state school. But the New Jersey public college might have other requirements that you have not met. That might add time to your education that you had not planned.
- What are the requirements to keep the scholarship? Each of these New Jersey public colleges can set their own policies. It might be easier to keep the scholarship at one school than it might be at another. If costs are a concern, make sure that they work out?
- What out-of-class opportunities will be available? These days almost every college student who wants to work after graduation has at least one internship on their resume. Different colleges have different connections.
- Could the school that interests you force you to commute? Most of these schools have made commitments to providing on campus housing. But suppose they welcome more students than expected. They could impose a commuting radius. Or they give priority to freshmen and continuing students who have already received a housing assignment for the fall. Social distancing guidelines could limit the number of available beds on campus. In a typical year transfer students would live off campus or commute. But the housing markets around these schools are different. Off-campus housing near Ramapo, Montclair State or the New Jersey Institute of Technology can be quite expensive. Housing options near Rowan and Stockton tend to be inexpensive for New Jersey.
- But what if my new school is forced to go online? The New Jersey public colleges that participate in this initiative have between 5,500 and 17,000 undergrads. Chances are that the larger schools will have large lecture classes that go online in the fall. Thomas Edison State University is largely an online school. The upside: chances are that you will spend less than you would have paid to your previous college. The downside: what if you left a small college that would have had smaller classes?
- What is the teaching approach at the New Jersey public colleges that are in your sights? If you are attending a small school, you might be prefer smaller classes at your next college. The same is true if you are attending a very large school, but considering a transfer to a smaller one.
Don’t make a move to change schools solely on costs, or a fear that your current school will not re-open its campus in the fall. Make sure that your new school will be supportive of your academic and professional goals, whether you live on campus, commute or take classes online. You want to make the right choice the first time you transfer, even when you’re coming home.
Need help in sorting through your options with the New Jersey Scholars Corps? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.