MTSU photo by Andy Heidt
One of the coolest things about MTSU is the diversity found in our student body. People of every race, ethnicity, and religion come from around the world to contribute to the discussions, debates, and experiences taking place within our community. While having the second largest undergraduate enrollment among public universities in Tennessee, MTSU also produces the greatest number of adult graduates into the Nashville economy, and is the #1 choice by transfer students in the state. I sat down with three current MTSU students who have transferred here from different community colleges in the area. They shared with me the ups and downs that come with transferring, and share advice for prospective transfer students.
Introducing our guests
Morgan, an Interactive Media major from Columbia State Community College
Hannah, a Political Science major from Chattanooga State Community College
William, a Political Science major from Motlow State Community College
Did you receive a degree from your community college or just transfer credits?
Morgan: I received an Associates degree!
Hannah: I transferred after one year so I did not receive a degree, just transferring credits.
William: I received my Associate of Science in General Education while attending Motlow.
Was it your initial plan to transfer to a 4-year school after community college? If so, was MTSU always your first choice?
Morgan: No, my initial plan was to attend Austin Peay State University for 4 years. It wasn’t a good fit after my first year there, so I came home and attended my community college.
Hannah: Yes, before I had planned on transferring after I received a degree; however, I got curious and applied to MTSU and after realizing how much financial aid MTSU offered, I learned I could receive a higher quality education for less money than I had at Chatt State.
William: After deciding to begin my education at Motlow State, I knew I would one day transfer to a four-year university to complete my bachelor’s degree, but that decision was far off in the future at the time. My first choice was the University of Chicago in Illinois. I had gone through much of the application process and spoken to a few advisors and academic coaches; however, the cost of attendance was too high, even with any financial aid I could have received. After the decision to not go to school in Chicago, I looked closer to home and narrowed my list to Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee State. Ultimately, I decided on MTSU due to affordability and proximity to my home in Manchester.
What has been the hardest adjustment you’ve had to make since coming to MTSU?
Hannah: The hardest adjustment was learning to prioritize my time correctly! MTSU offers SO many awesome ways to be involved and find community here, but my grades are important too! I think my first semester I averaged 4-5 hours of sleep per night because I always had something to do; club meetings, sorority events, connection points, or just study dates with friends. I had to learn very quickly that the class load here was very different from my previous school.
William: The hardest adjustment I’ve had to make since my first day at MTSU has been acquainting myself with a campus and bureaucracy that is much larger than the community college I had recently graduated from. Everything here is larger and more complex than at Motlow and such an increase in size can be shocking to a student whose only collegiate experience consists of two years at a small community college in backwoods Lynchburg, Tennessee.
What has been the best benefit of transferring?
Morgan: Getting to attend a large school with lots of options – my last two schools were limited as far as extra-curricular activities, such as sports, Greek life, and clubs/professional societies. I think MTSU has lots of great opportunities for socialization as well as professional development.
Hannah: I think the most beneficial part of transferring is the community at MTSU. Like I said, I got involved in any way I could and I have made so many lasting friendships and connections. MTSU does an excellent job of creating an inviting community of people that anyone can fit in with. There are so many clubs and organizations to choose from and get involved with here!
William: The most beneficial part of transferring to MTSU has been the opening of many horizons and the greatly expanded choice of curriculum offered by the university. This school has a little bit of everything and every student can find a spot where they fit in and are comfortable in what they do.
Why did you choose MTSU?
Morgan: MTSU is one of the best schools for pursuing a communications degree, so that certainly helped. I knew from past experiences that I wanted to be at a larger school, but not one so big that I got overwhelmed. I’m also close enough to home that I can visit in case I need/want to, but far enough away that I feel independent. MTSU also offers great scholarships to their transfer students which cover a majority of my cost of attendance.
Hannah: I chose MTSU because at the time that I was transferring, I was double majoring in Elementary Education and Political Science, and MTSU has an excellent program for future teachers, but as most students do I changed my major again and dropped Elementary Education. Regardless, as I said before, it was actually more cost efficient to attend MTSU because of my financial aid and the housing options near campus.
William: Ultimately, my decision to attend MTSU came down a toss up between it and Tennessee Tech University. My finalizing factors were whittled down to affordability, the range of classes offered, and distance from home. And affter all was said and done, I came to the conclusion that Middle Tennessee State was the university that best served all of my criteria and I have never regretted my decision to attend this University.
What is your best piece of advice for prospective transfer students?
Morgan: Register for orientation as soon as possible so you can actually get into the classes you need your first semester! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed – 4-year schools compared to community colleges are like Disney World compared to a local park. You may need some help navigating your way around campus or signing up for classes. Luckily, MTSU has tons of great resources to help out with that, like the student groups on Facebook!
Hannah: I would tell every transfer student these 3 things:
1. Have a good relationship with your professors here. They have a lot of students, but go and introduce yourself on the first day or stop by during office hours. This will help you in the long run when you need recommendations, have to miss class, or just need advice or assistance in general.
2. Find clubs that interest you and go to the meetings! MTSU offers something for everyone and you will find your home here!
3. Take the bus, use the gym, hang in the library, and go to Connection Point events… if your tuition pays for the resource, USE THE RESOURCE! and bonus, you’ll make friends at all those places too!
William: The best advice I could give to a new transfer student is this: Don’t get bogged down by the what if’s and worry of ensuring everything follows your vision of what college should be and what your education should look like. Listen to your advisors, professors, and friends who have done it all before and always remain flexible in your path to a degree; you may find that altering your path leads to some of the best experiences of your life. And don’t let the increased size of Middle Tennessee State freak you out too much; at the end of the day, you’ll find that the greater size only increases opportunity for friendship, education, and opportunities.