Colleges, and particularly online colleges, have steadily become more and more liberal about allowing students to transfer credits to them from other schools. Using credits you earned in the past can be a great way to save on a degree program, but there are some pitfalls to be aware of in the process:(Click here for a list of online completion degree schools that accept lots of transfer credits.)
1) Credit hours per class. If you took a class in, say, communication at a previous college and want to use the credits from it to avoid having to take the class again, there will need to be an equal number of “credit hours” awarded for the course at your old and new schools. Credit hours given based on how often a class meets. A class that runs four times every week is generally a four semester-hour or credit-hour course. This generally is based on a calculation of one credit hour for every actual 15 class hours in the course.
If the communication course in the school you are transferring into is a four credit-hour course but you took a three credit version of the course in your old school, you probably won’t be able to transfer the old credits forward. It’s definitely something to study before you sign up to transfer to any new school.
2) Classes must relate to your new major. If a course you took in the past is either not part of the curriculum for your new major or does not relate directly to the subject you are studying, it’s unlikely that you will be able to transfer the credits from it.
3) Vocational courses usually don’t transfer. If you took courses in auto repair, dental assisting are another vocational topic for a certificate or “terminal” degree at a community college or trade school, you probably will not be able to transfer those credits toward a new program. Bachelor’s and associates degrees at online and campus based schools often have a career focus, but are generally not focused on what’s traditionally called “vocational” learning.
4) Courses you got poor grades in may not transfer. Many colleges only accept credit transfer only for courses you got at least a “C” on. Be careful to investigate this, however. It’s not uncommon for a school in insist that you got a “B” on a course before they’ll allow credit transfer.
5) Life experience or career credit. Many online schools give at least some limited credit for life experience or direct career experience. If you take courses or get an associate’s degree that includes these types of credits, it is not very likely that another school will accept them if you try to transfer.
6) Lastly, be aware that, while online schools are generally very welcoming of credit transfer from traditional schools, the opposite is not true. It may not be entirely fair, but there’s no doubt that traditional colleges often refuse to accept credits from the large online schools.
Here’s more on the keys to transferring college credits successfully.