Transfer students succeed through research, planning

Marnie Leonard

Staff Writer

Parkland College is rife with students who plan to transfer to a four-year university after they earn their Associate’s Degree. But are those students doing the preparation they need to achieve that goal?

According to Randy Rothwell, an Academic Counselor for Parkland College, there are some steps students can take to boost their readiness to make the switch.

“I try to get new students to think about where they want to go to school. They should think about two or three options of where they might want to go, and start researching what the school has to offer,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell explained that students should check and make sure that the university offers the major they want. Students who are unsure of what major they want to go into should take classes that interest them, because eventually something might stand out as being what they really want to do.

“If a student knows what college and major they want to go into, it’s pretty simple,” Rothwell commented.

When asked if he often sees students lose their earned credits through a transfer, Rothwell said that he doesn’t usually hear of that happening, but doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

“Every school has the right to evaluate whether or not they’ll accept those credits or not, especially when you start getting to out of state or private schools, and they might have different requirements, so that’s another reason why it’s important to research schools,” Rothwell explained.

For the types of classes that transfer to four-year schools the best, Rothwell listed English, Math, Science, Business, and classes like Psychology and Sociology. He explained that since Parkland is a community college, the curriculum is designed to be able to transfer anywhere.

Exercise Physiology major Santiago Martinez is in his second year at Parkland College. He said that speaking with an Academic Advisor helped him feel more equipped for his upcoming transfer to the University of Illinois.

“I hadn’t really thought to look at the transfer requirements for the U of I, but I went to see one of the advisors and they set me straight. They showed me the classes I should sign up for and now I feel like I’m pretty ready to transfer,” Martinez said.

For students who haven’t picked a major yet, though, Rothwell had a few words of wisdom.

“I encourage those undecided students to sign up for the very common courses that you see in most universities. They’re safer. Intro to Psych is one of the most average courses, it tends to be required by most majors, like education, nursing, pre-med, business, etc. That’s a good one, if they’re unsure,” Rothwell commented.

“Also, I tell them to take math and English early, because English helps your writing in every class you’ll need for any major. And math, even if you hate it, you should get it done and over with and keep it as fresh as possible coming out of high school, because that’s another subject that will be required by almost every school you’ll transfer to,” Rothwell continued.

John Sheahan, the Director of the Counseling and Advising Center at Parkland College, said that more students change their major than don’t during their time in college.

“College is a time of discovery, but the earlier a student can make those kinds of decisions, the better it is for them when it comes time to transfer,” Sheahan remarked.

When Sheahan was asked what advice he would want to give to any students looking to transfer to a four-year university after their time at Parkland, he had two immediate answers.

According to Sheahan, the most important thing is to try and decide as early as possible what you want to major in and where you want to go to school. The earlier you make these decisions, the easier it is to plan everything.

“The second part, once you have that plan, is to make sure you’re getting help to map out the route that you need, whether that help comes from advisors or counselors at Parkland or advisors at those the four-year schools. If you do those two things, it tends to work out a lot better for you in the long run,” Sheahan explained.

For more information on transfer requirements and tips to help you plan out your time at Parkland, visit the Parkland Counseling and Advising Center in the U Wing or check out