Philadelphia, PA, USA

5 Things College Staff Won't Tell You

5 things college staff won't tell you, it's frustrating trust me i know

College is great, don't get me wrong, but you really have to be skeptical with everything they say. It's their job to get you to fall in love with their school, the major you’re interested in, and more. Why? Because it’s all about money in the end. You are another number to them, another statistic. It adds to their demographic. There’s always one thing to remember when it comes to anything in life and that’s, “If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.” The same can be said for colleges and college degrees. I'm here to save your ass and hope you don't have to go through what I did by figuring out the things college staff won't tell you and aren't telling you.

1. “Our degree can land you a job in (insert amazing field).”

I hear this one a lot, it’s one of the most common marketing schemes. In most cases, only a handful of alumni have landed amazing roles and careers such as the ones they promote. For example, I did my degree in Corporate Communication and they told things like, 

  • “You can have a career in media and journalism.”
  • “You can have a career in event planning.”
  • “You can have a job in Public Relations.”

Basically really fancy job titles that make you go “oooh and ahh” that make you think, yeah I’m going to be so successful! The reality is, out of the many alumni from my major that I met only one ended up in media and journalism. One other created their own media company and then sold it just recently. It’s rare, but a lot goes into these fancy careers. I directly applied to hundreds of public relations firms and got no word back or a simple “no.” I was willing to even be an intern and work for free.

In reality, the majority of people who finish a degree in just a Corporate Communication bachelor’s level, end up working at a bank, in retail, as a manager, a social media career, marketing, but all of it is entry-level. Why? No one looks at Bachelor’s degrees with marvel anymore because almost everyone has one these days. They glance over it and that’s it, that’s why they say finish anything because it doesn’t really matter as much anymore. That is unless you’re going into the medical or science field. That’s a totally different story, and even with those fields, you need more schooling, more degrees.  

Anyways… You could really do a certificate or a trade skill, people may ask why you did something different from the norm but then you can chime in with your personal story of a problem and a solution. Your problem was college degrees sounded too good to be true to be worth the money, and your solution was to do a trade skill instead. If you want to do a degree later you totally still can, and some companies will even pay for it for you.

Another example is the Criminal Justice field they’ll say things like:

  • “You can have a career with the FBI.”
  • “You can have a career in the government.”
  • “You can have a career in secret service.”
  • “You can have a career in homeland security.”

*Que mega eye roll*

And I’m sure you can, but again a lot more goes into having these fancy jobs. Years of experience, not just a handful of internships. More schooling or training, having the right connections, being involved at school, is just to name a few. 

I have actually a good example, my one friend has a government position, in what I don’t know exactly. Personally, I don’t like to pry but I really hope to get him on my podcast in the future to have him talk about his college career journey with you all! He didn’t go into criminal justice, he was a Corporate Communication major, had a handful of minors, took on a lot of classes that he was interested in that focused him on this interest of his. Got heavily involved with the school’s government and political system, and eventually, he met someone through all these events he was doing with the school that helped him out in finding this available career path for him. 

It didn’t happen overnight or because it was marketed as a possible solution right after college. It happened because he put in the work.

2. You really only have one chance to get a degree.

Say you get a degree in whatever and then you realize years later or a year later it’s not what you want. You want something else, and you want to go back for a second degree. In this case, you won’t get grants or financial aid for that second degree. 

You only get financial aid for your first degree. 

If you just have your associates you can get your bachelor's, but if you already have a bachelor's degree you won’t get any financial help for a second bachelor's degree. 

All you can do is pay out of pocket or take out loans for the full price of each semester.

3. Most of your classes have to be in-person to receive grants & financial aid.

If you try to take more online classes or classes through a web campus, you won’t receive grants aka financial aid. That’s because it’s considered distant learning and it doesn’t fall under financial aid help.

They don’t tell you this, they make it seem all fancy that they have online classes available, but then you take more online classes and you’re screwed. 

So the workaround is, take hybrid classes. Half the time they will show up once a week in class, but the other half usually say they’re asynchronous and everything is online. But you, the benefit is, still get financial aid. Hybrid courses are still considered in-person rather than distance learning.

So say for example: 

  • if you have 3 online courses (they’re usually marked as WEB) and 2 in-person, you won’t receive financial aid help. 

BUT

  • If you have 2 online courses, 1 hybrid course, and 2 in-person courses, you will.

The same can be said if you have,

  • 3 hybrid courses and 2 in-person courses, or even 5 hybrid courses. 

4. Choose your school as carefully as you can, cover all your bases.

I say this because most schools are in competition with each other. So say you are not currently satisfied with the school you chose for whatever reason, and are thinking about transferring, well it really depends where you'll be able to transfer to. You can just choose a new school, but you run the risk of having to retake a lot of classes that you already completed due to something college staff won't tell you about. That is what schools your current school has agreements with. Majority of the time, if your school is in competition with another school, some to most of your classes won't transfer. 

Look into what schools the school you're looking to attend has agreements with. You can do this by asking for a transfer credit tool, by using the search bar, or navigating to transfers on their school website. 

For example, I transferred from Community College of Philadelphia to Penn State University, and I realized only my Japanese classes will transfer but barely. They marked them down substantially so that 3 classes at CCP of Japanese only counted for 1 at PSU. That’s because CCP and PSU barely have an agreement, they do have some slight agreement but not an amazing one. Nonetheless, when I had to do language courses (Japanese) at PSU, I was still ahead of my peers even though somehow my Japanese courses were considered of lesser value than PSU’s. 

This transfer tool also comes in handy if you want to do summer classes or at any given point in time. I'll get into everything about summer classes in #5.


5. Summer classes are paid per credit.

Oh, the joy of this! I went through the wringer with summer classes. Don’t complain to me about the 1 summer class that you have that’s online, please. I had plenty of experience with many different types of summer classes. I’m going to break up this one because it has a lot of information that needs to be read, line by line.

The thing with summer classes is you have to pay out of pocket. 

Per credit. 

Most schools will charge about $600-1000 per credit. So if a class is 3-4 credits, you're looking at $1800 - $4000 per class. 

So say you want to take 2 classes in the summer, you're looking at like $3600 - 8000. 

You really won't get much financial aid either, and if you do you won't get it before your classes start or before the bill is due. It'll get disbursed to you towards the end of the summer. 

That means you have to pay out of pocket for summer classes. Also, you won't get much financial aid if you're taking 4-5 classes. They'll disburse maybe about 1/4 of that back.

As stated in #4, this is why I say it is really helpful to know what schools your school has agreements with. Through using the transfer credit tool PSU had, I saw PSU had an agreement with Bucks County Community College. Community college classes were a huge fraction of the price for summer compared to PSU’s price. 

Therefore, I took Bucks County Community College classes during my last year, my second year as a student. 

Instead of it being $600+ per credit it instead was around $300 per credit. 

Each class I took was about 3 credits worth. Therefore, each class came out to be $900. I took about 4 classes altogether during summer 1 and summer 2 (6 weeks in length each) and paid about $3600. Which was way better than the $8000 I spent at PSU for summer classes.

Beyond that, I had to get some type of paper signed by both schools that allows the credits to be transferred correctly as stated on the transfer credit tool. Again, something I wasn’t told prior, I checked in with my registrar to be on the safe side. He called them up, got this info, and it worked out. Nonetheless, I had another bad experience with the financial department at Bucks I paid in full, in cash, and they still kept saying I owed them money. When I went into my account it said, I owed them $0. And it’s like, 🤦‍♀️.

Last Piece of Advice

One last thing before I let you go,

Do your own research. 

Know how to get through it. Have connections. Make connections. Network network network. Take part in school stuff. Showing up and showing your face, participating matters in how easy or hard it will be to get your degree.

Question of the Day

Which of these surprised you the most? Or which of these surprised you the least?

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