The Stigma You Carry: What You Don’t Know About the Transfer Experience

When a transfer student walks into class, they are carrying the heavy weight of stigma against them.

When a transfer student walks into class, they are carrying the heavy weight of stigma against them.

Brittany Pisoni, Contributing Writer

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She was Aragon High School’s valedictorian, president of the student body, captain of the cheerleading squad, president of the robotics team, and beloved by all. She could do anything and everything and she knew it. She only associated herself with those who could talk her speed, rolling her eyes to those she assumed could not. It was no shock to see the pursed lips of judgment that formed when she learned that her lab partner for chemistry class would be the good-for-nothing low-life slacker of which I was perceived to be.

“I have to do good on this lab,” she said, clearly only concerned with her own agenda. “I am not going to fail this class and end up pregnant at community college.”

She clearly had strong opinions about a future I never came close to having.

There is a stigma against community college students. It is the belief that students not accepted to a four-year university straight out of high school must be students who are not serious about their future and probably never will be. Perhaps there is some truth to this, however, to believe it to be the norm is a frustration that my dorm mates and I live with every day as new transfer students at Pace.

“There’s people here that I specifically don’t talk to because when I said I went to a community college before this, they were like, ‘Oh…’ with like a little bit of a [attitude],” said Samantha Murphy, a junior transfer student from Rockland Community College. “The people that go to community college are way undervalued because most of them are supporting themselves in some way or working in some aspect on top of taking college classes. Whether you’re there because you don’t know what you want to do, you don’t have the grades yet, you’re trying to save money, like there are so many reasons to go to a community college- you have a family, you’re a mom or a dad and you have to take care of your kids. Everything that people at community college are going through gives you such a bigger perspective.”

According to an article posted by studentloanhero.com, a blog that helps students and parents navigate through the financial struggles of college, a student attending a community college can save anything from $2,000 to $20,000 after finishing a two-year associates program depending on the state. For examole, in New Jersey only cost $165 compared to the average four-year state school that cost $519 per credit. 

“My parents didn’t have enough money to send me,” saic Alexandria Porter, a younger transfer student from Sullivan County Community College. “…they thought it was a good idea that I stayed and eventually I was like, ‘Ok, this is probably the best idea cause I got a full scholarship to my community college.’” 

With the first two years of her education paid for, she only has to worry about two years of Pace tuition bills instead of four.

It is not always about the money, though, says transfer junior Jenna Sharkey from Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She believes that because nobody in her family had ever attended college before her, she had a limited sense of direction when attending high school.

“I literally almost didn’t graduate,” she admitted. “Coming to Pace, it like, really changed me. Like, matured me, and you know now, I’m like a whole different person so I feel like that’s my second chance.”

Murphy comes from a different perspective.

“Going to a university was always the plan, like it was never a doubt in my mind,” she said. 

Murphy’s parents went to four-year universities, and therefore, it was always expected of her to attend one also.

“They were very upset when I changed my mind from going to a four-year school to a two year- because they were like, ‘No you can’t do this’ because they thought that I was going to drop out and never finish,” Murphy said. “Once they realized I was committed to going, it was just I needed that stepping stone. It worked out.”

It is a privilege to attend a university for all four years of an undergraduate program. What students should understand is that there are many hardships that can prevent students from the typical college experience, but it does not make them any less deserving to be your lab partner.

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