9 Strategies to Ensure Successful Transfer from Community College to University

Starting at the community college and transferring to the university to complete a college degree provides several benefits, including:

• Lower overall college costs – tuition and fees are lower at the community college and community colleges are unlikely to have living on campus requirements.
• Skipping standardized testing (SAT/ACT)
• Earning a credential along the way – the Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

This post provides actionable information to ensure that the maximum number of credits transfer from community college to university.

Students completing the first two years at the community college and transferring to a university follow what is commonly referred to as the “2+2 path.” Students following this path have to complete an Associate of Arts (AA) prior to transferring to and getting admitted into the university.

The following strategies can help ensure a smooth transfer from community college to university with minimum credit loss.

1. Ensure that both institutions (the community college and the university) are located in the same state. Transferring credits across state lines can be difficult.

2. Select the college and the university wisely. Not all colleges have transfer agreements with universities. Public (state or community) colleges are more likely to have transfer agreements with public universities within a state.

3. Check out transfer agreements. Transfer agreements set up between community college and universities ensure that students enjoy a smooth college transfer experience (with the least amount of expenditures and effort). The best way to find these agreements is to look on the community college’s and university’s websites.

4. Eligibility. Pay close attention to the requirements stipulated in the transfer agreement. Different universities have different eligibility requirements. Specifically, some universities require that students earn a certain GPA and complete a certain course sequence to be eligible to follow the 2+2 path.

5. Think about a major. The major can be broad (i.e. business, engineering, health) but to ensure a successful transition from community college to university you need to make sure that the two institutions that you are selecting have the same major or variations along the same major. For example, if you are interested in something in health, but don’t know exactly what yet (and that’s okay, by the way) look to see which college has majors in biology or a health related field and then check the university’s website to see what health related majors is offering (biology, health studies, pre-med, etc.). Same thing with business, engineering, etc. Additionally, please keep in mind that there are nuances to college transfer. Specifically, even if you choose a major at the community college and complete the major requirements the credits earned towards that major at the community college may not apply towards a similar major at the university. Depending on the university, the decision for credit transfer lies with different offices. In certain cases the decision for credit transfer is centralized – an office reviews and accepts credits. In other cases, different departments review and accept credits.

6. Apply to more than one university. Please consider applying to more than one university. Repeat the steps described above for each university  because admission into the university of your choice is not always guaranteed. Therefore, cast a wide net and be flexible.

7. Find an academic adviser and map the course requirements stipulated in the transfer agreement. Build a list of course requirements for the destination institution (university) and see which courses can be completed at the community college. Consult with an academic adviser to help with mapping as well as provide guidance throughout the process. Additionally, some universities have dedicated academic advisers to help with transfer. Try to get in touch with them as early as possible.

8. Complete the AA at the community college. Transferring with a degree, either an Associate in Arts or a certificate ensures that the vast majority of credits completed at the college will transfer to the university. In other words, students that transfer with a degree are likely to lose fewer credits during the transfer than students attempting to transfer credits from a college to a university.

9. Grades matter. It’s tempting to think that grades don’t matter, but students with higher GPAs transferred more credits than the ones with lower GPAs. Therefore, invest yourself in your studies as much as possible.

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