Sunday, December 22, 2013

How can I combine two unrelated degrees?

A low-income student writes:
"It seems most who are interested in dual-majoring, dual-degrees, and the such usually have the duo linked. My interests, however, are in no way linked. 
If I'm interested in the BA/MA program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, but also would like to attend a college (like the Fashion Institute of Technology) for Interior Designing -- how is that doable, and how would financial aid assess this situation, as they are clearly not linked interests? 
I'm not a first-generation student, but a non-traditional unemployed and low-income student who's unable to "settle" on one interest/direction. I'm too old to be having any more regrets of not having done things when I should've, and have issues with willingness when it comes to time commitments to do with my disability. 
I'd rather do more in less time, such as overlap the degrees. I'm currently attending a community college and will be obtaining dual A.S. degrees this Spring for Commercial Art and Mental Health (haha, no, I'm not interested in "Creative Arts Therapy"). I'm very anxious to figure out transfer plans, as I will also have to arrange disability accommodation plans! I'm pretty much an unique student in every way possible, haha."
In general, it is difficult to attend two different schools while pursuing two very different degrees. But, this may ultimately depend on the schedule of classes and the policies on dual enrollment and financial aid at each school. So, you may want to start with looking into the rules at the schools that you're interested in attending. Also check out this advice on going to two schools at once.

Having wide interests, especially as a non-traditional student, is not uncommon! The key to nailing down your transfer plans is to get more clarity on what jobs you want to end up after you're done with school.

Honestly, it seems unrealistic to be both an interior decorator and work in criminal justice once you're done with school, unless you plan to maintain two jobs. So, between the two options which appeals more to you based on the day-to-day activities of the job?

Do you lean more toward one than the other and can you think of ways to do both without going to school for both full-time? For example, would you be happy with going to school for criminal justice then getting a related full-time job while you took occasional interior design classes and decorated on the side only?

It is also important to consider if school is even necessary for the careers you're interested in. Some criminal justice positions absolutely require a degree, while others do not always. In interior design, a design degree may not be necessary either if you are able to build a portfolio through volunteering or interning and without additional schooling. These are both areas where a degree is not always going to help you get a job, so look into the requirements for jobs you're interested in around your local area to help figure that out.

Practically speaking, it may also help to speak with a transfer counselor at your current community college to see if which of your associate degrees set you up the best once you transfer. Do you end up with more transferable credits in one area over the other? That alone may make one option more attractive option.

Looking at costs, is one school cheaper or more expensive? Is it financially feasible for you to afford two schools? Will you be able to pay off the debt with the jobs you're hoping to land after graduation? Does one career path pay more than the other? Financial implications are often deciding factors when you're currently unemployed and a low-income student.

You don't mention what type of disability you have, but you might also consider if one career path could potentially accommodate your needs better than the other. For example, if you have a learning disability which might make the record keeping common in criminal justice jobs difficult, it might make more sense to lean toward interior design.

So, you have a lot to think about and there is no easy answer. I hope these considerations help you think about it, but no one can really answer the root of your question. Good luck!

If you know of other resources for first-generation and low income college students, please share them with Ask An Advisor!

Can I go to a different college if I owe money to another school?

A reader writes:
"I'm looking into signing up for a class but if I owe money to a community college I went to, is there another way I can apply for another community college?"
If you currently owe money to one school, there are likely two important factors that may interfere with your plan to apply to another community college:

  1. Most colleges require you to submit official transcripts with your application, but most schools will not issue you official transcripts if you owe them money (or have other holds on your account).
  2. Owing money may impact your eligibility for financial aid at the new school, especially if the schools are connected in any way like being in the same district. 
Your best bet to figure out how this will effect you is to talk to both schools. You should contact the financial aid and/or Registrar or Bursar's offices at your current school to check if there are any holds on your account or even to work out a payment plan.

You should also touch base with the admissions and financial aid offices at the new school you're looking to apply to so that you understand their rules and policies on your situation as well.

Some school policies will allow you to apply and some won't, so go straight to the source. Good luck!

If you know of other resources for first-generation and low income college students, please share them with Ask An Advisor!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Check out FirstGenerationStudent.com!

Whenever I discover a great resource for first-generation college students, you know I have to share. I just stumbled upon an awesome website for first-generation college students that I would highly recommend that you bookmark:


A goal near and dear to my heart, FirstGenerationStudent.com is providing awesome, free content geared toward helping first-generation college students make it to college and succeed.

It makes my advisor heart sing to see resources like this out there, so I hope you check it out!

If you know of other resources for first-generation and low income college students, please share them with Ask An Advisor!