Mackenzie Masters has connections.
“I want people to know that I am here as a resource to help direct students and hopefully help more Pensacola State College students to become Seminoles,” Masters explained.
Masters is an admissions officer who helps guide students through Direct Connect – Pensacola State College to Florida State University Panama City, a program which enables Pensacola State students who have earned an Associate of Arts degree to make a seamless transition to FSU Panama City to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
The FSU Panama City campus currently offers 18 undergraduate programs, including bachelor’s degrees in engineering, accounting and business and Masters said they’re adding new programs. Part of her job is to help students narrow down their choices and make sure they are on the right path.
“A lot of our programs (at FSU Panama City) require prerequisites or have GPA requirements and sometimes students aren’t aware of those things,” Masters said. “If they don’t meet the requirements, we try to catch that as early as possible.”
Masters suggests that students who are interested utilize the online registration form to begin the process.
“Students can upload a copy of their unofficial college transcript so that we can head off issues,” Masters said. “Although the Connect program is supposed to guarantee admission, it does have to fall under university standards.”
She said that even if students are not 100 percent certain that they want to attend FSU Panama City, it’s a good idea for them to register for Direct Connect as soon as possible.
“This is not binding at all. It’s a way for students to indicate that they’re interested in transferring to FSU Panama City,” she said.
Masters added students should apply for the program early in the game.
“Ideally, within the first year … it’s better if they sign up for the program as early as possible,” she said. “If they wait too long, it might set them back. It’s really just supposed to be a resource to let them know what’s available and to get help with what’s available. “
Masters also noted that FSU Panama City currently waives application fees for students who are applying with an A.A., “So it’s literally no harm, no foul to submit an application.”
Recent Pensacola State graduate Bobby Courson took advantage of the Direct Connect program and now is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the FSU Panama City campus.
“It was very easy. I just sat down with her and she showed me what classes I could take and what I needed to make it all work. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without Mackenzie and the program,” he said.
The former Pensacola State Pirate’s pitcher was able to secure the Student Success merit-based scholarship, which is one of several that are only available to students using Direct Connect.
Masters also has information on ways students in the Connect program can access services, events and activities at the Panama City campus.
“We try to create the same environment of community and tradition at Panama City. As soon as you’re at FSU, you know you’re at FSU,” smiled Masters.
Masters extols the benefits of the Direct Connect program, saying it offers a stepping stone for students who may not be academically or financially ready to attend a larger school.
“Getting into a big university as a freshman is getting increasingly difficult. The standardized test scores and the GPA’s are attainable for some and not for others. It’s great that this A.A. program gives you the same opportunity at a less expensive cost,” she said.
So far, 15 Pensacola State students have applied through the Direct Connect program and 10 have been accepted to FSU Panama City. There are also two Pensacola State students who are currently on track in the Connect program who will likely transfer for the Spring/Summer 2019 semesters.
“We have very high hopes for this partnership with PSC and we very much hope to see more students in the near future,” said Masters, who is located in the Student Advising Center in Building 5 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. each Tuesday.
“We’d like to encourage anyone who is interested in Florida State University – Panama City or Tallahassee – to stop by,” she said. “Even if a student is just starting to explore their options, I’d love for them to stop by and chat for a few minutes.”