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For The Commonwealth: Transferring Back After A Year At University Park

On a campus of more than 40,000 students, it’s safe to say that everyone knows at least one student who attended one of Penn State’s 19 Commonwealth campuses before transferring to University Park. The path that Austin Sabatucci will take this fall is much less common — back to Penn State DuBois after a year at University Park.

Sabatucci weighed his college options during his senior year of high school and ultimately decided to begin his freshman year at Penn State DuBois, primarily to save money. “I also liked the idea of still having a home-cooked meal every night,” he added.

“I started off at DuBois and did two years there,” Sabatucci said. “I really liked it there, but there was really no way I could finish my major there. I had to come here to do it, and I was completely okay with that. I always enjoyed my time coming [to University Park] for meetings and other things when I was involved in student government.”

Though he had always planned to finish his degree in political science at University Park before entering law school, Sabatucci had a change of heart after completing his first semester of relevant coursework.

“I always thought I loved political science,” Sabatucci said, “but after getting here to University Park, I realized political science wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be…I have quite a few friends who have gotten their political science degrees here, and they’ve had a hard time finding jobs, but these were mainly people who had decided not to go to law school.”

Consulting his parents, Sabatucci decided that perhaps studying business would actually be the best option for him, especially if law school would potentially not work out.

“My second option has always been business,” he explained. However, because Sabatucci was already so far along in his degree program, it would not be possible for him to enter the Smeal College of Business at University Park.

“Business is one of the biggest things Penn State is well-known for,” Sabatucci said. “They have their standards set high, and I can understand that because they have so many students coming here specifically for business. As a junior who already has a lot of credits, I can understand that they need to accommodate their new students first. It would be really hard for me to get in their now at this point in my academic career.”

Sabatucci considered his options and ultimately decided to transfer back to Penn State DuBois to finish his degree in business, albeit one semester later than his original graduation date.

“I think the biggest reason that I’m switching back to DuBois is because it’s going to be cheaper to get the same degree,” Sabatucci said. “A lot of people chastise the commonwealth campuses and say that they’re not as good as University Park, but in my opinion, they’re on the same level. The professors I’ve had here and the professors I’ve had at DuBois are of the same caliber….Smeal does have distinction, but at the end of the day, you’re still taking the same classes at the commonwealth campuses.”

Sabatucci also described the common stigma among University Park students that classes taken at commonwealth campuses are not as difficult as their own.

“I don’t think it’s about the difficulty,” Sabatucci explained. “You’re in college to actually learn, and I think that the commonwealth campuses can give you a better ability to do that because it’s often easier to have one-on-one conversations with your professors. I’m not worried about going back to a commonwealth campus because I know a lot of people who have been successful [after graduating from commonwealth campuses].”

“It’s not like I couldn’t handle being at UP,” Sabatucci explained, “and that’s what I thought a lot of people would feel like when I said that I was transitioning back [to DuBois]. I’ve still done really well for myself here. It’s a little bit more stressful because everything is faster-paced, but it’s not that I couldn’t handle it here. I do like the atmosphere at DuBois, and I really am looking forward to going back. Will I miss [University Park]? Yes, but there are pros and cons to both campuses.”

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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