SUNY JCC Helps Students Plot Degree Paths to Continue College Education

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A past transfer fair at SUNY JCC.

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SUNY Jamestown Community College

Jamestown resident Charles Sisson started his college career in the fall of 2019 at SUNY Jamestown Community College. He was happy to stay in his home community, and had an eye on his next steps, but was largely focused on the two years ahead of him.

“I always saw JCC was affordable, and good for me as a student, because I prefer a smaller campus feel,” Sisson said. “What satisfied me most was that I was getting challenged just as much as in any other SUNY school. I never found myself at JCC thinking this would be an easy ride.”

As Sisson approached graduation, he started researching transfer options. He had a university in mind, and found the transfer was not going to be smooth.

“I hit a snag, because most of the credits from my classes at JCC were not going to be accepted as part of their program for media arts,” Sisson said. “It was a bit of an anxious summer, waiting for things to happen.”

According to 2016 data from the National Student Clearinghouse, average time to earning a degree was extended by nearly a year for students who had earned an associate’s degree prior to receiving their bachelor’s. This is largely due to classes students take at community college not being accepted by the university they transfer to.

SUNY JCC has more than 300 transfer agreements that are continually reviewed and renegotiated to best benefit students. Colette Haight, associate professor and coordinator of Advisement at JCC, says waiting until the last semester to decide where to transfer is more likely to result in credits not transferring. She encourages students to begin mapping out their transfer plan as soon as possible.

“We do have transfer agreements in place with many colleges, both in-and-out-of-state, and we can help students craft a transfer plan for any college we don’t have an agreement with,” Haight said. “The sooner students know where they want to go and bring that information to their advisor, the sooner that transfer plan can be designed.”

Sisson returned to JCC to take some of the courses the other school required for his degree. While on campus, he met a representative from Bellevue University, and the conversation was fruitful.

Charles Sisson, recent graduate of SUNY JCC.

“I learned that they would take all of my credits and I would receive a preferred tuition rate, which turned out to be an unbelievable 70% discount from other colleges right there,” Sisson said. “It was hugely amazing to find a college to transfer to that respected the work I had already done.”

Haight said that staff at the Counseling & Career Center can help students search for schools to transfer to that have the programs and environment they are looking for. If they want to start researching on their own, there are tools available at sunyjcc.edu/counseling.

“We empower students to take the lead,” Haight said. “We encourage them to start with their end goals in mind.”

Sisson explained he has a friend graduating with the same Communications degree who will have spent more than $180,000. He estimates he will spend less than $13,000 in those same four years.

“JCC is such a tight community — it was always my first option because it was affordable and I prefer a smaller campus feel,” Sisson said. “You can’t ignore the good it does for pretty much anyone who is willing to walk through the doors.”

Sisson feels fortunate that he will graduate without student debt because of his savings attending JCC, the transfer agreement with Bellevue, and working at Tops Friendly Markets through high school and college. His advice to students is to plan their next steps as soon as possible, and research the coursework required of the degree program they would like to enter.

“Bring the document that lists the courses to your JCC advisor and have them help you match the courses,” Sisson said. “It’s easier to match the university’s courses to the JCC course than trying to make the JCC courses fit the university’s requirements.”

Those interested in getting started at SUNY JCC are invited to attend the college’s upcoming Open House from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 on the Jamestown Campus. Attendees are encouraged to register at sunyjcc.edu/OpenHouse. Registration will enter participants in a drawing to win a pair of Apple AirPods, and the winner must be present at the event to claim their prize.