Staying at Mercer for a Bachelors degree has pros and cons

Written by: Oscar Trigueros

We all spend our two years (or however many) at Mercer trying to get out so we can get that next level college experience. Or at least most of us want that, right? Not for me. When I graduated Mercer last semester what I really wanted to do was save as much money as possible and have a smooth transition from the community college experience to the university experience.

For all of you who have been planning your next move after Mercer, you know how much it can cost to board at a university, and that’s before you add the tuition and the textbook costs.

I knew I didn’t want to go very far for college. I knew I wanted to stay close to home, only I didn’t know what I wanted to major in or even what school to go. I had thought about maybe getting another associates degree in New Media, but scheduling classes was difficult and it would be unlikely that I could get another degree in two years.

Then I found out about our university center on campus through the Mercer’s website. I had always heard about the Bachelor’s programs that Mercer offered, but didn’t think much of them.  Yet something about the Liberal Studies degree from William Paterson got my attention. I majored in Liberal Arts at Mercer and enjoyed learning a wide variety of topics. So the idea of getting a Bachelor’s studying everything from English to Political Science sounded like a perfect fit for me.

I gave a call to Leonard Winogora, the director of the program, and he and I sat down the same day. He gave me a long, but convincing ,spiel about the program and the benefits. What really caught my eye was the price! I applied immediately, and just a few months later received two grants and plus a scholarship, which ended up covering the majority of my tuition.

The courses I enrolled in consisted of English, History and Political Science. Over the summer I was thrilled, excited and a little nervous about  starting my new program. Could I be successful like I was as a Mercer student? Thankfully, the team at William Paterson got me through everything quickly and efficiently.

Getting help from financial aid was twice as fast and twice as easy than it was at Mercer. Hallelujah! Each student in the William Paterson program is provided with an advisor for classes and an advisor for financial aid.

It’s not a completely perfect program. There are some drawbacks and potential deal breakers. The first being that most of the classes you will take from a very limited selection are online. Out of five classes, four of mine are online. The one class I do have on the Mercer campus is a two and a half hour course and is only one night a week. The selection of majors is even more limited. You only have the option of four majors at the Mercer program.

Another problem I have with the program is just how difficult it is to get a hold of the textbooks. In the Mercer bookstore the shelves are mostly empty for the William Paterson courses, having only one of the three textbooks I need. It is difficult enough trying to get a decent deal at the bookstore, but now I’m struggling to even locate the required textbooks I need.

My online classes have proven to be good and my in-person class is exciting because the people in the class are on this journey with me for the next two years, until I get my Bachelor’s. It’s exciting to know that the people in the room with you will grow and learn the same information you will, and that if you’re struggling they will be able to help you out of a jam.

It’s all a tight-knit community for those in the Bachelor’s program. Everyone from Leonard Winogora to Dr. Robb, my personal advisor, are a phone call or email away and I’ve never felt like I was dealing with any problems or discrepancies alone. I’ve never had to deal with problems I don’t know how to solve alone.

The Bachelor’s program at Mercer from William Paterson has done a phenomenal job at making me feel like I’m not  just repeating the community college experience. When I’m at Mercer now, I feel like a William Paterson student even though I’m not on the William Paterson campus. When I’m talking to my guests at the restaurant where I work, they always ask me where do I go to college and I always respond “William Paterson” with satisfaction.

That shows you know how well Winogora and the William Paterson team have done at making their students feel like they’re getting a real college experience.

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Oscar Trigueros
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