More than a third of all college students transfer schools within six years of starting their education. They do it for all sorts of reasons: some finish a two-year community college program and want a to finish a four-year degree, some move to a new geographic area, while still others change majors or simply decide they’re not satisfied with the first school they signed up for.
Key To Finished The Degree
It’s important that you research the transfer policy at your prospective new school carefully. Studies have shown that students who do not succeed in having many of their old credits transferred into a new school have less change of completing their degrees.
Transfer policies are not very standardized at all among U.S. colleges and universities. If you sign up for a new school with assumptions about how many of your old credits will transfer, you may be sorely disappointed.
Do The Research
Whatever your reason for transferring, make a point of talking to a transfer counselor in your new school’s admissions office. That’s your best protection against wasting a good deal time and money having to repeat classes you didn’t expect to. In fact, you should be as aggressive as possible in getting your new school to give you credit for learning, life experience and work skills you bring with you from past work.
Challenges to be aware of:
- Schools generally have a maximum number of transfer credits they accept. Find out this number before you apply to a school.
- There is generally a minimum grade required in any past course if it’s going to be accepted in transfer. This number unpredictable, with some schools accepting C or even D grades, but most asking for at least a B.
- Some courses have an expiration date, which means that if you’re older and took them long ago, they won’t count. This tends to be particularly true of science or STEM courses, where tech knowledge and procedures change rapidly over time.
- Advanced Placement (AP) or CLEP exams can be accepted for credit, but it’s important to check your new school’s policies, as some colleges don’t accept credit for these at all.
- Just because a course you have already taken has a similar name to one at your new school, that doesn’t mean it has the same content. Your new school is likely to look at this closely before granting any transfer credits.
- Most degree programs have “prerequisites,” or basic courses you need to take before you can start in on your more advanced study. Find out if the prerequisites are different at your new school. If they are, you may have to circle back and take several very basic courses.
- Some previous courses may be applied directly to your major, while others may be accepted only as electives. Alternatively, a school may refuse to accept credits for any courses in your major, or insist that you have completed them with a B or even an A.
- Be aware that you may be able to get credit for work experience, military training or even life experiences. In some cases, it can be a bad sign when a school offers to give a great deal of credit for life experiences – it tends to be a hallmark of a “diploma mill.” But even high quality schools can be open to giving some credit for sold real-world experience and knowledge if it relates directly to your academic major.
Finally, a key tip if you are attending a Community College: Be aware that many CC’s have “articulation agreements” with four-year schools that virtually guarantee acceptance for graduates who complete a two-year degree.
There are few ways you can save more money on college than getting credit for courses you have already taken. It’s well worth doing your homework, and having a long talk with the admissions counselor at any school you want to transfer into, to find out how you can avoid repeating schoolwork you’ve already done somewhere else.