Emily Magsamen, communications major at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), finished her associates of arts in general communications at Mercer on Spring 2013. Magsamen knew she wanted to continuing to pursue her bachelor’s degree, she just had to decide where to go.
“I thought about transferring to Rutgers and commuting there, but that didn’t work out as well as FDU did,” said Mangsamen.
Today she is finishing her first semester at Fairleigh Dickinson University, but she doesn’t have to commute to FDU’s Florham campus, she takes her classes at the Mercer’s West Windsor campus. This was made possible by the University Center.
The University Center is a partnership between Mercer and 4 year schools, that offers the to students the possibility of getting a bachelor’s degree paying discounted tuition and without leaving campus.
The first partner school was Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), which came to campus in 2004. Today, Felician College, William Paterson University and Rutgers are also at the West Windsor campus.
According to Vice-President of Academic Affairs Dr. Guy Generals, the goal of the University Center is to give Mercer students the opportunity to complete a 4-year degree without leaving campus.
“By the very nature of as community college students, they are working, they have families. They don’t have the luxury of staying on our campus. So to have the college here is a benefit to them, and this is really the primary reason,” said Dr. Generals.
“It’s close to home, an easy commute, I can keep my job while still attending school and I can be with my family,” said Mangsamen.
Emily Mangsamen is one of the over 200 students attending one of the 4 partner schools at the University Center.
Other than the location, tuition also plays a big part when a student is deciding if he they will go to a 4-year school and where they will go.
Amanda Ferrogine, senior year Psychology major at William Paterson University at Mercer said she considered the tuition rates when she applied to WPU. “When I graduated from Mercer I transferred to another school in the area, but I ended up not liking it at all and it was really expensive.”
With the exception of Rutgers, the schools at the University Center offer discounted tuition the go from 20 to 40 percent.
Associate Director and Professor of International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University Joseph Tormey said that “Mercer students will have a 40 percent discount on their tuition when they attend FDU,”
At Felician students will pay “30 percent less than the regular undergraduate tuition rate,” explained Associate Director of Adult and Graduate Admission at Felician College Andrea Horvath.
William Paterson offers almost 20 percent discount, when attending it at Mercer.
While the students can get lower tuition rates, they don’t have as many choices in their class schedules as when they attended Mercer.
The University Center offers classes mostly in the evenings and weekends.
“The course offerings along with the schedule for these offerings, evening and weekend, was based upon an agreement with MCCC and WPU [William Paterson University]. This agreement was addressing the needs of the community and the working adult population,” said Judith Grausso, on-site coordinator and advisor of William Paterson University.
“At the moment there are no plans to expand our offerings Into the mornings and throughout the day,” said Grausso.
The only schools that offer day classes are Rutgers and Felician College. Horvath said that “For the RN to BSN it is one full day a week because the students will be doing two classes during that one day that they are here on campus, but it’s always the same consistent day of the week throughout their program.”
Nursing major at Rutgers also have classes one day a week during the day. Other majors have the option to take classes online or in one of Rutgers campuses. “Students who are currently enrolled in the Labor Studies and Political Science majors can take classes either online, in Freehold, or in New Brunswick during the 2013-2014 academic year,” said Katherine Birckmayer, Manager of Academic Programs, Division of Continuing Studies, Rutgers University.
Birckmayer also said that Rutgers will start offering “a full schedule of classes at Mercer starting in Fall 2014. Aside from Nursing, our courses will be offered in the evening to accommodate students who work during the day. As enrollment increases, we will start offering day classes in addition.”
Tormey, from Fairleigh Dickinson said that the classes are offered during the weekends and evenings to fit the students’ schedules.
Dean for Instructional Effectiveness Linda Scherr told the VOICE about the scheduling of the classes offered by the University Center.
“My understanding is that the classes of our 4-year partner institutions are offered at times when classroom space is available and at the times that the 4-year institutions believe are most convenient for their students. I believe that classrooms are assigned first to MCCC classes and second to the partner institutions.”
Students will find not only limited class schedules, but also a only a few majors are offered.
Felician College only offers Nursing. Rutgers University offers Political Science, Labor Studies and Nursing. William Paterson University offers Early Childhood Education, Liberal Studies and Psychology and Fairleigh Dickinson University is the one with the most selection, four bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management and Business and Technology and a Master’s degree in Hospitality Management.
A recent VOICE survey of 30 Mercer students revealed that 50 percent of students would like to attend Rutgers University at Mercer, 11 percent said Montclair and other 11 percent Fairleigh Dickinson. Some of the other schools mentioned were Rider, Bloomfield and TCNJ.
The survey also asked students about what majors they would like to study at the University Center. Psychology was the major with the highest score with 20 percent, followed by Nursing and Photography, each with 7 percent. Other majors appointed by the surveyed were Graphic Advertising, English and Social Work.
When asked if they would consider finishing their Bachelor’s degree at Mercer, 43 percent of the surveyed said they don’t know while 30 percent said they definitely would.