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Transfer student’s educational pursuits: From community college to ASU graduate school


November 12, 2021

Central Arizona College transfer student Hilda Olsen wanted to return to college because she knew she needed to obtain an education to better support herself and her children. She also wanted to set a good example by showing them that if you work hard, you can reach your goals.

As a recently divorced, single parent, Olsen chose to first go to Central Arizona College because it was a more affordable option for returning to school after a nearly 20-year absence, and she felt that completing her associate degree would better prepare her for pursuing her bachelor’s degree.
ASU Transfer Student Hilda Olsen
Transfer student Hilda Olsen completed her bachelor’s degree with the W. P. Carey School of Business in summer 2019 and is now pursuing a master’s degree with Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
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Returning to school as a nontraditional, first-generation student, Olsen said that “there were so many things that I did not know were even available to me,” so she sought out new experiences to help her navigate this new environment. One of the ways she became involved was by joining Phi Theta Kappa, a two-year honors society, which helped her become more connected to the school and to other students and faculty on campus.

Olsen’s advice to new transfer students: “Get involved on campus! This is probably the single most important thing you can do as a transfer student. Whether in a student organization, student leadership role, working in an on-campus job — all of these will help you to get connected to other students with a similar program of study or similar interests and hobbies. Having these personal connections and relationships will help you when you have questions or need additional help and resources. Never be shy to ask questions and ask for help; everyone on campus is here to be a resource to help you be successful.”

Her experiences at Central Arizona College inspired her to look for ways to also get involved upon starting at ASU. The first key experience she had was living on campus in student family housing. This really helped her to build a connection with the Polytechnic campus community. She then looked for a student staff job and started working for University Housing, which led to her getting involved with the Polytechnic Residence Hall Association and to volunteering to plan activities in her community. As a W. P. Carey School of Business student, Olsen was also a part of the student organization Business Ambassadors.

These and many other university experiences led her on the path to pursing a career in higher education. Olsen is currently working on her master’s degree in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College higher education program, having completed her bachelor’s degree from the W. P. Carey School of Business in 2019.

Question: What inspired you to pursue higher education?

Answer: I returned to college after my divorce, as I knew that I needed to obtain an education to be better able to support myself and my children. I also wanted to set a good example for them that, exemplifying that if you work hard, you can reach your goals. 

Q: Why did you decide to attend a community college first?

A: I chose to attend community college because it was more affordable. I also did not take the ACT or SAT tests while I was in high school, and I did not think I would be accepted to a university before completing my associate degree. 

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or organizations at your community college? If so, please share which ones and how our participation impacted your community college experience.

A: I was involved in Phi Theta Kappa, a two-year honors society. Being involved in this program helped me to become more connected to the school and enabled me to build relationships with other students and faculty on campus. Through these relationships, I was able to learn about an on-campus student staff opportunity. These experiences greatly impacted my community college experience, and from these, I knew that I wanted to have similar experiences when I transferred to ASU. 

Q: Why, and when, did you choose your major?

A: Before my many years of being a stay-at-home mother, I worked in accounts receivable, so the office environment is what was familiar to me. I choose to do the associate in business degree because it was listed as a transferable degree, whereas the accounting degree was not. When transferring to ASU, although I had my associate degree, I still needed to take the SAT to be admitted into the W. P. Carey School of Business accountancy program. W. P. Carey has a great support system to help students to take this test, but honestly, I just didn’t want to. So I chose the business (communications) program because I felt that it aligned with my previous volunteer experiences with training adult volunteers, and that was something that I really enjoyed.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because I was geographically bound, being a resident in this area and a single mother of three kids. I wanted to have an in-person school experience and was not interested in looking at online school options.

Q: Did an ASU pathway program or MyPath2ASU help you?

A: When I was attending CAC, although I did not utilize the MyPath2ASU program, I did follow the AGEC-B and was focused on taking the classes that would fulfill earning my associate degree.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor’s degree?

A: I completed my bachelor’s degree in August of 2019, and one week later, I started my master’s program. I plan to continue to work at ASU and to build my career here. 



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