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How to Make Sure Your College Credits Transfer

If you're looking to transfer from a community college to a four-year college or university, or transfer from an Associate Degree program to a Bachelor's Degree program, how can you be sure your hard-earned credits will transfer? And what about transferring from an online school to a traditional four-year institution? Let's take a look at these scenarios, and some tips on how you can help ensure that more of your credits transfer to your new degree program.

Transferring Credits from a Community College to a Four-Year College or University

Many students choose to attend a community college for a year or two before transferring to a four-year college or university as a way to save money on the overall cost of tuition for their college education. Indeed, taking general education courses at a community college is often a good money-saving tactic, but only if those credits are accepted by your new school. If they are not accepted, not only will you need to retake the courses, but the money you spent on taking them at the community college is lost. Some states (Virginia is an example) have guaranteed transfer agreements between state community colleges and a network of public and private state colleges and universities. Check with a local state community college in your area to find out if your state has this kind of transfer agreement. Even if it doesn't, there are some steps you can take to make sure your credits transfer.

Look for affiliations

One of the best ways to make sure that your college credits will transfer from one school to another is to look for affiliations among schools. If you choose a community college that is affiliated, or has a relationship, with a four-year college or university, chances are high that your credits will transfer between them. A relationship between schools is no guarantee, however, so be sure to check with the admissions department at the school you want to transfer to early on.

Choose the right courses

Some courses are more likely to transfer between schools than others. General education courses are often highly transferable, while more specialized topics within your major may not transfer, depending on the school. If you plan to pursue the same course of study at the new school, some of your specialized courses may transfer to your major requirements at the new college or university.

Do your research

"Articulation agreements" in many states outline the exact requirements for transferring credits from one higher education institution to another. And many states offer online tools to help you navigate the requirements, including:

Even if you find that some of your credits won't transfer to the first school you are considering, don't stop there. Shop around to see if other quality schools might accept more of your credits.


Make sure you meet all passing criteria

Even if your credits will transfer to your chosen four-year college or university, you will likely still need to meet passing criteria. Be sure to check the minimum acceptable grades for each credit to make sure the courses will transfer.

Transfer within two years

Keep in mind that many colleges and universities will not allows students to transfer more than 30 to 50 percent of total credits earned, so consider taking general education and basic courses within the first two years at community college and begin the process of transferring within that timeframe.

Verify accreditation

Be absolutely certain that the community college or online school you plan to attend is accredited. Legitimate, accredited, four-year colleges and universities will only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions.

Talk to an advisor

All of these guidelines do not take the place of the vital step of talking to an advisor. Meet with an advisor at your community college and at the schools you are interested in transferring to far in advance of when you plan to transfer. At this meeting you can confirm which classes will transfer, what grades you will need to make, and any other requirements.


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