If you’re asking: “Do transfer credits affect my GPA?” the answer is almost always no. There are, however, some subtle ways in which your grades from your old “pre-transfer” school can affect you later on.
In virtually all cases, course grades you received for your “old” transfer credits will not count toward your GPA at your new school. Colleges and universities have varied rules on what minimum grade you need on a course if you want to transfer credit for it toward your new degree program. But if you’ve meet the grade requirement (a B or a C at most schools) your old courses will essentially be brought in as simple “passes.”
Fresh Start On Your GPA
Your grade point average (GPA) starts over in the first semester at your new school. You won’t be able to have any high grades you earned in the past counted in your new GPA, but you also shed any poor grades you got in the past. That kind of fresh start can be a great opportunity, particularly if you’ve managed to improve your study habits now that you’ve got a few semesters of college under your belt.
Your Transcript and Grad School
There is, however, one place that the grades for your old transfer credits can come into play. If you apply for a master’s degree program after completing your bachelor’s degree, your grad school will probably want to see your transcripts going back to your first college, which means they will see your original GPA. Fortunately, if you’ve improved significantly in your transfer school, most grad school admissions departments will tend to pay more attention to your more recent performance.
Pass/Fail Course Credits
Pass fail courses generally don’t count toward your GPA when you transfer. You simple won’t get any credit for failed courses at your new school. Once you’re transferred and you start building up your new GPA, you should be aware that any fails you’ve receive at your new school may be counted as F’s. Because your GPA is calculated by dividing your total grade points achieved by your total credits attempted, those Fs may negatively impact your overall GPA. That’s just one of the good reasons that it’s better to withdraw from this type of course rather than get a failing grade if you don’t think you will be able to pass it.
There are other reasons you should not to be too casual about doing the required work in pass/fail courses. Remember that you are paying for all your courses, and you don’t want to miss out on credits and push your graduation further into the future. In addition, if you fail several of these courses, any grad school you apply for will see them on your transcript.
Wiping Out Failing Grades
It’s good to know that there’s a way to minimize the effect of any course failures on your GPA. If you want to repeat a course, it’s advisable to do it quickly while the subject matter is still fresh in your mind. Assuming you get a pass or a high grade the second time around, you may be able to get only the grade for your second attempt counted toward your GPA. Some schools will do this automatically, but others require you to petition the registrar’s office to make this happen. It can be complicated. A good example of one school’s policies on grades for repeat courses can be found here on the University of Toledo website.
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John O’Brien has been a writer, editor and consultant in higher education for over 14 years. His background includes writing for insidehighered.com and The Chronicle of Higher Education. As editor of College Degree Complete, he has advised hundreds of adult students on how to transfer colleges without wasting the credits they’ve already accumulated, to finish their degree programs in the fastest and most affordable way.