As an adult going back to college after a break in your studies, you’re probably wondering about transferring your old college credits. If you’ve been out of school for awhile, hunting down your transcripts and doing the legwork to figure out which credits will transfer may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. However, there are great benefits for those who do the research and transfer college credits into their new program. For instance, despite what you may think, many college credits from an accredited institution never expire, and can count towards your education years into the future. Don’t let the foundation you’ve already built go to waste; find out why taking the time to transfer your credits could pay off big in the long run.
One of the most appealing reasons to transfer college credits is the amount of time you’ll save by not having to retake those classes. When you’re going back to college to get a better career, you want to get to your goal as quickly as possible to hopefully better your life. Depending on how many credits you are able to transfer, you can save a semester to over a year’s worth of classes, which is a significant block of time. By not taking the time in advance to do the legwork to transfer those credits, you’re only delaying your future and creating unnecessary work for yourself.
Each class you take costs money, so obviously you can save a lot by transferring college credits from classes you’ve already taken. The average 3-hour college course costs between $700-$900 dollars, meaning you could save yourself thousands of dollars when you transfer college credits. And if you’re able to get financial aid, the more credits you’re able to transfer, the greater the percentage of your total cost that aid will cover. Any expenses you incur tracking down your old college transcripts and figuring out which credits will transfer will be far outweighed by the money you’ll save.
Focus on Core Classes
Even if you’re switching to a completely different major than what you started with, you should be able to transfer core and possibly elective class credits. The more of these credits you can transfer, the more you can focus on the core of your major. Most undergraduate degrees require similar freshman courses before getting to the “meat” of the subject; if you can transfer these in, you can focus the bulk of your time studying the subjects most closely related to your major and your future career, keeping your knowledge and skill sets fresh in your mind. For adults going back to college, this can be very satisfying, since many lower-level courses can feel like unrelated classes you just have to “get through” before sinking your teeth into what you really want to study.
Fit an Accelerated or Integrated Program Into Your Schedule
Some online schools like Kaplan University are now offering combined degrees, where you can work on part of your master’s degree while finishing your undergraduate degree. If you thought graduate school was out of reach because it would take too much extra time, transferring your college credits can give you the time you need. By eliminating some of the coursework for your undergraduate and then combining what’s left with a master’s program, you may be able to earn two degrees in the time it would take to earn just one. This means that you’ll graduate even more qualified than you may have thought, which could open up even bigger and better career opportunities for you after graduation.
Get a Higher GPA
When you transfer college credits, you usually don’t transfer your GPA. Instead, as long as your qualifying courses meet your current college’s grade requirements (usually a C or higher), they will transfer. This means that if you left college the first time with a less-than-desirable GPA, you have a second chance to bring it up. Transferring these credits gives you the best of both worlds: you get credit for the work you’ve already done, as well as get a clean slate for your GPA, allowing you to make it higher than it was in the past.
Nothing To Lose
As you can see, taking the time to transfer college credits has a lot of positives. Not only can you streamline your college experience, you have a second chance to make it even better. Saving time and money while getting the degree you need for a better career means that you’re building a solid foundation for your future, which is something you should feel great about.
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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.