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BSC opens doors wide to transfer students

BSC opens doors wide to transfer students

Articulation agreements, other moves welcome students to the Hilltop

Millie Nordgren ’19When Millie Nordgren ’19 was completing high school in Gadsden, Ala., she had one goal: landing a spot on the dance team of the “Golden Girls” at Louisiana State University.

She didn’t make it on her first try, so she chose to spend her first 18 months out of high school living with her parents and training for tryouts while taking classes at Gadsden State Community College, which she added to the college credits she had already amassed in high school.

It was an unusual choice for her family because her two older brothers attended Birmingham-Southern and loved it. Her family has deep roots at the college; her great-great grandmother was part of the Norton family the BSC campus center is named for. But she wanted to make her own mark.

“I was like, ‘I’m not doing that!’” Nordgren said. She held to that opinion even when she didn’t land that Golden Girls spot and shifted her sights away from LSU. But her mom insisted she at least visit BSC, arguing that the tight-knit environment would be a great fit. 

“I came on a tour and I just fell in love immediately,” she said. “I’m a relationship person, and this community is so welcoming and open and inclusive. That was obvious from the very beginning.”

BSC is working to become even more welcoming to transfer students by signing onto articulation agreements with community colleges so that students like Nordgren find it easy to transfer their credits. So far, BSC has inked agreements with four Alabama two-year colleges. Students who have already completed their associates’ degrees may only need to take a writing reinforcement course and a senior capstone to fulfill general aid requirements, and a full list of equivalent courses are here.

Jamal Watkins ’18While it may be easy to transfer courses, it’s important to understand they’re not taught the same way at BSC, said Jamal Watkins ’18, a Business Administration major who transferred to BSC from Mississippi State University.

“The classes are much more focused than my others were on real-life learning, not just looking in a book and memorizing things…,” said Watkins. “It’s hard, but it’s much more fun, and it’s like muscle memory—by having to learn a concept and then apply it, it will really stick better than if I just have to read some definitions in a book.”

In addition, Watkins said, his BSC connections landed him an internship at Birmingham’s top restaurant, the award-winning Highlands Bar and Grill, giving him a huge leg up on his dream of owning a restaurant. He has also found a home on both the football and track and field teams.

Nordgren was nervous about fitting in when she transferred to BSC in the spring of 2017. Her fears weren’t helped when she got a message from her assigned roommate the day she moved in letting her know that there were two rats—the byproduct of a science product—living in their room.

“I thought, there is absolutely no way I can do this, I can’t live there,” she laughed. “The funny thing is, we became best friends, and we’re still incredibly close.”

Overall, Nordgren said, finding a home on the Hilltop was easier than she expected. She has gotten involved in religious life on campus, joined the special events committee of the Quest II student programming board, and even ran for office in the Student Government Association last spring. She also works a retail job part-time and is taking courses in the Leadership Studies Distinction in addition to her major in Business Administration.

The classroom work is much more challenging at BSC than at Gadsden State, she said, but her professors have also been available to help and have been eager to treat her as a peer rather than talk down to her. And she added that forming a relationship with faculty has been one of the highlights of her move to Birmingham-Southern.

“Transferring to BSC changed my life,” Nordgren said. “It opened my life to new experiences and I would—in fact, I do—tell everybody to do it.”