Many students attend a community college to complete their first two years of college with the intent of transferring to a four-year school to complete their degree. Community colleges usually have open admission policies and provide a less expensive option for completing the general education requirements needed for a four-year degree. Students transferring to a university need to complete a variety of tasks to be ready for the next leg of their academic journeys. Preparing to transfer requires research, planning and attention to detail.
Choose an Institution
Selecting a transfer institution is just like your initial college search. Research the institutions that have a major that interests you, visit prospective schools and be sure you feel comfortable in the environment. Meet faculty and staff and ask questions about the special services they have for transfer students. For example, do they have a transfer office or a career center that can provide assistance? Apply in advance and send official transcripts from any college you have attended. Don’t take for granted that because you have earned college credits that you automatically will be admitted.
Create an Academic Plan
If you are going to transfer to a four-year school, start developing a plan of study right away. Investigate the major that interests you and determine in advance the courses you will need to take. Compare the prerequisite classes with the offerings at your community college. Choose classes that will count toward those necessary for your degree of choice and make sure that they will transfer. It is critical that you work hard in your classes to ensure that you are prepared to move on to upper-level classes.
Meet with a Transfer Specialist
Meeting with a staff member who specializes in transfer-student assistance is essential to your success. Transfer specialists know the ins and outs of the institution and can provide you with a checklist of things to be accomplished. They are experts in evaluating transcripts. Be sure to do this so you know how many of your classes will transfer. Many institutions have articulation agreements that assure course transferability. Ask prospective colleges if they have an established relationship with your current institution.
A four-year institution typically is more expensive than a community college. Investigate the total cost of enrollment prior to making a commitment. Unlike community colleges, four-year institutions generally require students to enroll for a certain number of credits, making full-time work difficult. If you are planning to apply for financial aid, be sure to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in advance. You also should visit with a financial-aid adviser from your prospective school. Attend transfer orientation at your new school so you can learn about required paperwork and speak with a financial-aid adviser.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.