As part of the high school graduating class of 2020, I had to navigate the college selection process during the height of the pandemic. This led to me choosing a school that, on paper, appeared to be a great fit for me. This wound up not being the case, mostly due to the lack of honesty and transparency. I was enrolled in the private school that waited three days after everyone submitted their deposits to announce every student’s financial aid package was being reevaluated due to the pandemic. After they released new financial aid packages, the cost of my college attendance increased $30,000. Needless to say, I immediately decided I needed to transfer to a school with more transparency. Luckily, I enrolled fairly easily into a community college for the fall semester while I looked for a new school.
When it came time for me to navigate the transfer process within the SUNY system, I was dumbfounded at how complicated it was. Somehow it felt more overwhelming than the first time around. This mostly came down to one issue, the credit transfer process. Between the courses I took at my local community college and AP credits I received in high school, only 18/30 were valid to transfer into actual courses. The rest became uncategorized elective credits, which put me back in my major by an entire semester. This is because SUNY only guarantees year-level standing for students transferring with an associates degree, which isn’t the case for most transfer students. Typically students transfer after their freshman or sophomore year and typically don’t obtain an associates degree prior to transferring. Four out of ten students find that a major portion of their credits didn’t transfer, and another 15% lose all their credits entirely.
New York State needs to implement transparency in the credit transfer process to ensure that students can make the best decision for themselves, their education, and their bank account. It’s incredibly frustrating and humiliating to find that an entire semester’s worth of credits and tuition are useless. Repeating courses is draining and wasteful of both the students and professors time. NYS implementing a transfer credit process that is transparent and supportive would allow students to better prepare for their future and make higher education more transparent and equitable for all students.
Bella LaFreniere is a member of Young Invincibles-New York’s 2022 Spring Young Advocates Program.