If want to transfer to a new college and you’re a straight A student with unlimited financial resources and time, you’ll probably have no trouble finding your new college. But the vast majority of American transfer students don’t fit that description. They’ve got a variety of issues that make it tricky to find a school, get accepted to it and transfer in all the credits for courses they’ve already taken.
Here’s a look at dealing with key issues you may have when trying to find the easiest schools to transfer to.
You Have Low Grades In Your Previous Coursework
According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Central Florida in Orlando accepts more transfer students (6,777 in the 2015 school year) than any other college in the U.S. The school has a list of varying rules depending on whether you’re trying to transfer in less than 30, 30 or 60-plus semester hours of previous coursework.
UCF requires that you have received at least a “C’ in any course you took at another school to transfer in the credit for it. There are also minimum SAT or ACT Plus Writing score requirements, though they are not made clear on the school’s website. If you are hoping to transfer 60 or more semester hours or transfer to USC after earning an associate’s degree at a Florida community college, you also need to have completed two college English courses, two college math courses, and be able to show competency in a “world language.”
The minimum “C” requirement for previous coursework and the ability to transfer 60 or more credit hours in, which would comprise half of a bachelor degree program, made UCF a fairly transfer-friendly school. Its unlikely that you’ll find schools that accept transfer of course credits where you got less than a “C.”
Union College in upstate New York offers a good comparison. Its an old, private school with competitive admissions. To transfer in, you need at least a 3.0 grade average overall, and need to have taken at least one semester of full-time academic work in “courses comparable to those offered at Union College.”
Online schools, both for-profit and non-profit, generally make a more concerted effort to be open to transfer students. Kaplan University, for example, accepts credits for a course at a previous school where you earned a “C-” (pending certain basic review requirements), though each course must relate in some way to what you want to study at Kaplan.
But like other online schools, Kaplan offers considerable flexibility for transfers in other ways. It allows up to 75% of all credits for some degrees to be transferred in. You can earn credit for life experience, military service, professional certifications or training or even certain skills you may have, based on an assessment. Kaplan also offers an unusual opportunity to try out a bachelor degree course for three weeks at no charge, so you can see if you’re comfortable with the school.
The “net net” is that there’s tremendous variation in the transfer requirements at American colleges and universities. It takes some real work figuring out the best option for you, but it’s worth the effort.
You Want To Change Major
This one can have a big effect on how many credits you can transfer. Two measures generally apply to course transfers:
First, the course at your old school must bear some similarity to the course you want to forgo at your new school. For example, you want to transfer credit for an introductory math course where you only learned algebra at your old school. But if the intro math course at your new school also includes calculus and trigonometry, you may actually be stuck having to take basic math again It’s important to remember that credit transfers generally are done on a course to course comparison basis.
Second, you will probably only be allowed to transfer credits for courses that directly relate to your new major. If you’re changing majors from sociology to computer science, a good many of the sociology courses you’ve taken may not count toward the new major.
The good news here is that the “foundation” type courses for many bachelor’s degrees tend to be similar. The basic English, math and writing type courses that just about all freshman must take are very likely to transfer to a new school. Read more here on exactly which courses will or will not qualify for credit transfer.
You want to transfer from traditional school to an online school
The main issue here is the accreditation of the school where you earned your credits. Regional accreditation is the strongest type for general education degrees, though it gets far more complicated if you are taking a degree in nursing, engineering or other subjects, each of which has a series of more specialized accreditors.
If you took your first courses at a school that has something other than regional accreditation, you need to do careful research about accreditation requirements at the school you want to transfer to. Click here for an overview of how accreditation works.
You Want To Go From An Online School To A Traditional School
The same issues apply as above. However, it’s more complex going from an online to a traditional school because there are more online schools that have less than regional accreditation. You won’t be able to change the accreditation for courses you already took, so you’ll need to talk to your new school to get the specifics on what you can transfer in.
It’s Been A Long Time Since You Were Last In School
There’s always a question as to whether or not old credits, meaning those for courses taken 5, 10 or even 20 years ago, can be transferred into a new college. The answer in most cases lies in whether the current information being taught in a subject has evolved a great deal since you studied in the past. Science and engineering courses are generally the most “perishable.” It can be quite difficult transferring them forward because technical knowledge evolves so quickly that what you learned about it even 3 years ago can be out-of-date.
Humanities courses tend to remain transferrable for longer. Subjects like English, sociology and writing often don’t change as much over time. But you’ll need to find out if there is a match between what you studied in a previous English course, for example, and what the basic English courses involve at your new school. If there’s a big difference, your old course may not qualify you for credit transfer.
No college or university would ever say openly that it does not want to take in older students. What’s perhaps more important than pure willingness to accept is whether a school provides the kind of services at you will need as a “non-traditional” or adult student. That can include flexible class schedules that allow you to stay on top of family or work responsibilities and other benefits key to the adult learner.
Colleges have, in fact, taken on students in their sixties or older. But many people this age don’t tend to want to live on a campus with lots of 18 – 20 year olds. Online schools have tried to make themselves more attractive to older learners by providing more personalized course schedules and help options, which is why they have been chosen by a large proportion of adult learners.