A New Chapter of Education
November 8, 2021
Transfer Students Change the Institution but Continue Learning
Freshmen aren’t the only students who experience the university for the first time. According to UCM’s website, “Nearly 1,200 students transfer to UCM every year” from a community college or another university.
Junior psychology major Jenelle Roberts is one of the many transfer students at the university who transferred from Metropolitan Community College over a month ago.
“My community college was a lot smaller and felt like a community,” Roberts said. “People knew each other, you saw the same students repeatedly, the campus was close to home. I’m also not the best at socializing, but I have joined a club recently.”
The university has over 200 student organizations with a variety of categories.
In addition to getting accustomed to campus life, the learning environment can also be a different experience for transfer students.
“I would jokingly say community college was a continuation of high school,” Roberts said. “Here, it’s ‘Here’s your book, you’re going to learn this yourself.’ While community colleges do that, they didn’t do it to the extent they do it here. It almost felt like a stepping stone.”
Roberts is not the only transfer student having to get used to campus life. Junior computer science major Andrew McLaughlin transferred from St. Charles Community College to the university this semester. McLaughlin said meeting other students has been a challenge.
“Meeting new people is hard,” McLaughlin said. “I knew students would have known each other and formed their own cliques. I was a bit nervous, especially because I’m an introvert. It’s really difficult, and I am socially awkward. I have joined a fencing club, but I’m still working on being social.”
Although the transfer transition takes time to get used to, both Roberts and McLaughlin said they are glad to have started at a community college first.
“I’m very happy I started at a community college,” McLaughlin said. “Starting at community college saved me lots of money. In fact, I’m going to be taking one more General Education course at my previous community college this upcoming summer.”
“Starting at community college was the best path for me because I pretty much received a full scholarship and got my general education out of the way,” Roberts said.
Junior digital media major Isaac Roberson transferred from William Penn University to UCM this year. Roberson went to WPU on a wrestling scholarship.
“At the end of wrestling season, I started to lose love for the sport and wasn’t content about where I was at in my life,” Roberson said. “UCM was a college I was always looking at, so I made the switch.”
Even with the challenges that come from transferring, Roberson said he wouldn’t change where he started even if he could.
“If I started here [at UCM], I would have never found out wrestling wasn’t for me,” Roberson said. “My past made me who I am today. I feel like it was the path of my life.”
Graduate Students Continue Their Education
Walking across the stage on graduation day for a bachelor’s degree is a dream for many students. While some see their bachelor’s as the final destination, it’s just the beginning for students who choose graduate school.
Mohamad Hammoud Dib earned his undergraduate degree in business at the American University of Lebanon. After graduating in December 2020, Dib came to the University of Central Missouri to earn an MBA in management.
Dib said even though he graduated with a high GPA while being heavily involved on campus, finding a job was almost impossible. Many students in his shoes were traveling and doing their graduate program abroad for better opportunities, so Dib took his chance and came to America to earn his master’s degree. While earning a graduate degree is optional, Dib saw it as a requirement.
“I was not able to find a job in Lebanon,” Dib said. “The economic crisis was really bad. It was either stay and not work or leave.”
Dib said it was difficult leaving everything behind but having his girlfriend here made the whole process easier. When it came to the university, Dib adjusted to the graduate program system quite easily.
“The professors were definitely more strict back home,” Dib said. “Here, professors are more lenient and really want you to pass. UCM professors are very lovely.”
Psychology graduate student Savanna Trout also credits professors at UCM for making graduate school manageable.
“Graduate school can be intense, but once you get through your first semester, you’ll get used to it,” Trout said. “Your thesis is what you’ll mostly be focusing on during your master’s degree. Without your thesis, you won’t graduate. The professors are really good at making students equipped with necessary knowledge to be able to complete their thesis.”
Although not all graduate degrees require a thesis, the psychology program Trout is in does.
Unlike Dib, Trout took a year off after getting her bachelor’s degree. Trout used that time to take a break and determine her next step in life. Trout ultimately decided to return to UCM for graduate school since her future field of work will require it.
“I would highly suggest taking a break if you need to,” Trout said. “Use the time off to regroup but don’t waste it. Look into what you want to do next. Even during my break, I was studying for GRE when I decided to return for graduate school. GRE is a test you need to pass to be accepted into graduate school.”
Trout had many factors when deciding which graduate school to attend, and cost was one of them. Since a graduate program can cost more than undergraduate programs, it can have students wondering if graduate school is worth it. However, there are ways to reduce the costs.
Personnel administration graduate student Muna Abdella-Hazak is an example that it is possible to get into graduate for little to no cost.
“Cost was a big factor when deciding which university to attend for graduate school,” Abdella-Hazak said. “Graduate assistance covered about 75% of costs for my last university. UCM covers pretty much everything with the Graduate Assistance program.”
A graduate assistantship is a work opportunity for graduate students. Not every graduate program offers graduate assistantships, but Abdella-Hazak said students should always search for them.
Stress was another concern Abdella-Hazak had about graduate school. She thought graduate school would be time-consuming and scary.
“I thought I wasn’t built for grad school, but realized you could do it if you set my mind to it. If you know how to balance you will be fine. Being passionate about the subject will make the whole experience easier,” Abdella-Hazak said. “If it’s just for the title, it’s not going to be enough. You should have a plan.”
New Country, New University, Same Student
Every year, thousands of students around the world leave their home to study in a different country for months or even years. Such an experience can be too scary for some, but a once in a lifetime opportunity for others.
International students are students who choose to attend college abroad for part of or all of their education. Fatin Hulu, an international student majoring in English from Thaksin University in Thailand, is only at UCM for the fall 2021 semester.
“I came to UCM for the education and the experience,” Hulu said. “My future work will be related to journalism and politics. The classes I’m taking are related to my field of study and will broaden my perspectives.”
As for the experience, Hulu has found the United States to be quite different from Thailand.
“America is definitely more individualistic than Thailand,” Hulu said. “In Thailand, it’s more collectivism. If you see an outside event happening, you can join. People usually eat with each other and share their food but people don’t do that here. These are small examples but something I have noticed.”
Hulu said she has also seen a sense of community when she sees people go to church. Although her traditions and beliefs are different, she said she feels at peace.
“Here, plenty of people go to church every Sunday,” Hulu said. “Even though I don’t share the same religious beliefs, I respect that they have their own tradition just like we do.”
An important aspect that makes a country’s tradition is the food. For Syeda Tooba Ali, a software engineering major from NED University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan, food has been one of the most challenging parts about coming to the United States.
“There are lots of unhealthy foods here,” Ali said. “For the first few days, it was okay but now I’m getting a bit tired of it and miss Pakistani food.”
However, Ali’s main focus when coming to UCM wasn’t the food. She said she really wanted to experience a completely different culture and educational system.
“The USA is technologically advanced, especially in my field, so I wanted to see how problems are solved and learn from it,” Ali said.
Ali said this experience is once in a lifetime and she is really happy to have taken the chance to study at UCM. Although she has had a great time, she said she is also excited to return home in December.
“I really do miss my family and friends,” Ali said. “I usually call twice a day to my family. I’ll definitely miss UCM and all the people I have met.”
A whole semester can seem like a long time, but some international students study abroad for years.
Bren Den Ng is an international degree seeking student studying cellular molecular biology. Ng transferred from Methodist College Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to UCM in the fall of 2021. He plans to earn his bachelor’s degree, which will take him two years to complete.
Ng said the job opportunities related to his field of study was the main factor that made him transfer to UCM.
“I chose to get my degree here because the job outlook is better in America for my field of study compared to my country,” Ng said. “I also wanted a completely new experience, too.”
Being an international student can be expensive. Hulu and Ali both received scholarships to attend UCM. For Ng, the university partnerships allowed him to get in-state tuition.
“My previous university and UCM had a partnership,” Ng said. “The class I took over there transferred here. UCM also offered me in-state rather than international tuition.”
Coming to a completely new environment can be scary. Ng was also warned about COVID-19 by many of his friends. He said his family also stressed to be careful and to be alert of hate crimes against Asians.
“Thankfully, so far, I have been fine,” Ng said. “I have gotten vaccinated and the people have been nice. Really the only negative thing I have experienced is getting stares when walking in Cracker Barrels but everything else has been positive.”