Transferring between schools has gradually become a normal part of the college experience in the U.S. Over one-third college students now do it at least once during their education. So, if you’re trying to find the best online colleges for transfer students, you’re not facing a unique challenge.
There’s lot of good news if you’re in the process of looking for the right school to transfer to. To begin with, American colleges and universities have become very aware of the vast number of students “on the move,” and they’ve adopted policies that make the transfer process easier. At the same time, a number of good tools have sprung up on the web that make it easier to research the best colleges for transfer students. Only one thing is unavoidable: if you want to transfer successfully, you need to be ready to spend some time on the web learning about which schools will actually help you reach your particular goals.
Every Type of School
People are transferring to and from all kinds of colleges. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, almost 600,000 students transfer out of public/state universities and private schools each year. For-profit schools, curiously, have a somewhat lower transfer rate than either. And there’s a significant number of students to transfer each year from four-year schools to community colleges, which generally focus on two-year degree programs. It’s a testament to how many people either change their goals or re-evaluate the quality of the school they started in each year.
Different Colleges Different Policies
Generally, schools with large online degree programs tend to have slightly more transfer-friendly policies. That’s because the programs are often designed to attract “non-traditional” students, meaning students who are older and looking to get back into school after failing to complete a degree for one reason or another.
A quick sampling illustrates why you need to do your homework if you want to discern which are the best colleges for a transfer student (click here for our own list of online schools that take lots of transfer credits). Schools ask for a mix of grade averages, SAT scores and other things (in each case there are additional requirements beyond what’s noted here):
Private schools can be the toughest to get accepted to. They tend to be a bit flexible with applicants who come to them out of high school, often taking in students with slightly lower grades who have unique non-academic qualities like strong commitment to community service. The standards are a bit more rigid when it comes to transfer students.
California’s Stanford University is one of the best known private schools in America. It’s website actually doesn’t list the precise number of credits it will accept in transfer. But it requires a minimum grade point average of 3.5 for transfer acceptance. That’s a pretty high bar. The school also requires letters of recommendation, high school and college transcripts and a 250-word essay.
Colgate is perhaps a small step down from Stanford in terms of name recognition, but it’s a very highly respected private school (located in upstate New York). Colgate requires transfer students to have at least a 3.0 grade average on any previous college courses, but notes on its website that the average for transfer students who actually get admitted is 3.5. Colgate accepts up to 16 course credits in transfer, which is enough to put you half way to a bachelor’s degree. An interview is required and the applicant must write two different essays.
Saint Leo’s University, a school with a Catholic heritage, is more indicative of the private schools that have expanded significantly into online education (for more here). Transfer applicant must have at least a 2.5 average to apply. Up to 64 credits can be transferred in from a community or junior college program.
American Intercontinental University is a large, for-profit school. Like other similar institutions, it is quite transfer-friendly. The school’s lengthy credit transfer doc outlines options for students from the military, those who want to use CLEP or DANTES exams to get credit for knowledge they have, an advanced placement test and a number of other options. Credit for individual courses can be transferred in if you received at least a “C” grade in them, and a maximum of 96 credits can be transferred in toward an undergraduate degree. Overall, the school clearly makes an effort to reach out to transfer students.
Do Your Homework
The requirements listed above are only part of the picture. I you want to do a good job of picking the best online colleges for transfer students, you’ll need to get a phone or in-person interview with an admissions counselor at any school you’re considering. Some key online tools can also help you in your research:
Transferweb offers forums, articles and research tools to help both two-year and four-year college students through the transfer process.
College Transfer Net has a tool that can help you plug in your study history and figure out which parts of it will transfer to which schools, among other things.
Transferology is a new tool which helps you evaluate credit transfer to specific schools, though it does promote some specific institutions.
Finally, make sure to look closely at the transfer information on the website of your prospective new school. Not doing that can result in you failing to see some great opportunities to find the right school, and finish your degree faster and at the least possible expense.