As a college student, you are on your own. You are living your best life (let’s face it, the college years are some of the best years!) and you are doing your own thing while trying to earn a degree. The beauty of higher education is that you aren’t limited to the colleges or universities in your area. You can pick up and go wherever you want (pending acceptance, of course), whenever you want.
There are many reasons why someone would want to transfer colleges. Maybe you are going to a school across state to be closer to the love of your life. Perhaps you got accepted to a school far from home, but you now realize how much you miss your family and want to transfer to a school closer to home. Heck, maybe the atmosphere at school just doesn’t feel right and you don’t want to continue feeling out of place.
Whatever your reasons are for transferring colleges, it’s important to know that always you have that option! You just have to do a little soul searching to determine why you want to go to a particular school. With that said, there are some things you need to know before you do this. More specifically, there things you need to know about your college credits when transferring.
Things to Consider Before Transferring
The first thing many college students must know and understand is how to transfer credits. You may have been at one school for a few semesters and you don’t want to lose all that hard work! It would be awesome if all those credits transferred from one school to the next, but sadly, it doesn’t work out that way.
Generally speaking, students who are in their first or second year of college will have completed most, if not all, general studies courses, which usually isn’t difficult to transfer. However, if you’ve taken major-specific courses, then you may run into problems.
Your credits may not transfer to the new school because:
- Recency: If you are taking some time off between transferring from one school to the next, your new school may deem the previously earned credits irrelevant to the new program.
- Relevancy: Earned credits may not align with the new program’s course requirements.
- Acceptable Grades: You may not have earned the required grade for the transferred credits to be accepted.
- Accreditation: Usually, accredited universities will only accept credits from other accredited schools (Tip: Always go to an accredited school just in case you do want to transfer down the road).
- Quarter vs Semester: Some schools will have four quarters to their school year, while others will use fall, spring, and summer semester. This is a big deal because it will mean a difference between credit hours and coursework completed may be different.
Other than knowing if the credits you have already earned will transfer to your knew college, what are some other things you need to know or do?
1. Be Aware of Financial Aid.
The desire to change universities isn’t that uncommon. For the fall 2016 semester, thousands of students transfer from one school to another. The University of Maryland University College had a staggering 9,413 new transfer students.
Unfortunately, not all schools will make this an easy process – especially if you use financial aid. Deciding you want to transfer schools could cause the amount of financial aid you receive to be less, but more importantly, if you transfer, you will still be responsible for the federal loan you receive. In some instances, you may enter a grace period where you have to make payments on that loan in six months. As you can imagine, this could be an unexpected financial burden.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Begin Networking!
Networking is probably one of the most important things a student can do during their college career. You never know who will help you (or who you can help) along life’s journey. It’s also important to learn how to network properly with your peers and professors..
Networking and connecting your professors is especially important because it will give you an idea of what to expect out of the course work ahead. You can use LinkedIn, a social media platform designed for professionals to connect with one another. Also, depending on how well you network, those connections you make could help you find a job after graduation.
3. Use University Resources to Help With Transferring
Before you begin the transfer process, speak with your student advisor for help. They’ll be able to walk you through the process. You then will want to contact the registrar’s office so you can get your transcripts. In some instances, you’ll be able to have your transcripts sent electronically, which can help expedite the transfer.
Be aware that some schools will require that you provide some kind of certification that indicates you are enrolled in classes. If the school you want to go to requires this, you can ask the registrar to verify your status.
4. Transfers Will Not Happen Overnight.
Students who are transferring from community colleges (or just transferring in general) should be prepared for the transfer process to be slow and sometimes challenging. You can hasten this process by reaching out to internship offices, academic advisors, and even professors as soon as they know they want to transfer and where they’d like to go. This is where networking can really be useful!
5. Gather Letters of Recommendation
Although letters of recommendation may not be necessary when transferring from one school to another, they can help you quite a bit. These letters should come from faculty members with whom you’ve formed a relationship with. Ask them if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation, but you can ask the advice about the potential schools you are considering applying too. You never know, they may have some connections that will help you along the way.
Deciding that you don’t want stay in your current college or university isn’t an uncommon thing. This is especially true if you are currently enrolled in a community college and you’re ready to go to a four year university.
The process of transferring can feel a little intimidating, but there are people at your school who can help you navigate the process. You can talk to advisors, other students, and even your professors for advice and guidance. They can offer advice on what schools to consider and they may even be able to tell you what to expect during the transfer process.
It is important that you take the process seriously and you plan thoroughly – this means getting your transcripts in order, understanding what credits (if any) will transfer, understanding the financial aspect (whether or not your current financial aid will be accepted at the new school, or applying for scholarships), and gathering letters of recommendation. When you have all your ducks in a row, so to speak, your transfer process will go a little smoother and you’ll be a lot less stressed!