How could I leave behind all my sisters?

How could I leave behind all my sorority sisters? No transfers for me! Image from my personal archives.

College can be a very confusing time for students. Jokes are made about the most dreaded question being “What are you going to do after college?” but we must not forget the intense amount of stress that is faced by students every day outside of the memes. With the many options available to students to pursue their education today, satellite programs bring another solution to the table for students.

Unlike satellite campuses, which refer to a branch of a college in a different location, usually also more academically challenging, satellite programs allow you to complete your degree and graduate on one campus with the name of the other college it is linked to on your degree.

I first found out about this when I considered making a drastic major change — from Advertising to Nursing. Not only would this career move affect what I would end up doing, but my tuition, job prospects and projected earnings. I had to be very careful about this choice, and while I did not end up changing my trajectory, I am glad that an alternative course of action was available to me. Weighing both options allows you the freedom of knowing that you made the right choice in the years to come.

The Pros

Having already adjusted to life on a Big 10 campus, I did not want to shift to a commuter college. I had formed ties, made friends and even joined a sorority. Students may be faced with the situation turned the other way round. They could also be locals who would find themselves unable to pay additional costs for housing. This problem is especially relevant in state schools.

Most programs that are linked this way tend to be in the same system, such as the Universities of California, thus making it much easier to make the switch. Moreover, the other program may be ranked higher, thus giving you the knowledge and name brand recognition professionally, while not disrupting your personal life.

If you wish to switch back out of the program, the process is simple. This was a major deciding factor for me. I did not want to switch to a school which specialized in Nursing, for example John Hopkins, and then realize that I wanted to return to Advertising. Not only was I not guaranteed a place back to my old college with the better Advertising in this case, but I would also be wasting a lot of time, effort and money in switching schools. My academic performance too could have been disrupted by these constant changes.

Finally, this is a great option for students who do not put much stock into online degrees. It may be said “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”, but there is a stigma against online degrees that still persists and for students who cannot get over this, a satellite program may work better.

The Cons

While there are several advantages to a satellite program, it may also deprive you of opportunities offered. You may not be able to to form connections with your peers in the same program. Of course it is possible with a little extra effort on your part, but you might still not be able to take complete advantage of on-campus opportunities such as career fairs arranged by the college as you would be at a different campus.

In addition, the teaching styles may be very different. If you are already acclimated to a certain manner, this could negatively impact your grades. A public school may not be able to give you personalized attention and sticking to a public school, while fulfilling your big campus needs, may not serve your best professional interests in the long run.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, no one can make this choice for you. While consulting your friends, family and guidance counsellor are sensible options, you will be the one living with the decision and the one whose life is most affected by the change. However, if the reasons above resound with you, you can rest assured that you are a making a smart career move. Traditional college paths do not work for everyone, and this just may be your perfect fit.

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