5 Tips for Transferring Credits

personal achievement

One of the best ways to accelerate your graduation day is to transfer credits. But many students find the transfer process very long and complicated. It doesn’t have to be so scary. Here are five easy steps you can take to make the transfer process go smoothly.

1. Be Proactive

You don’t have to wait until after you’ve enrolled. Remember, it’s never too soon to start preparing to transfer your credits.

To transfer your credits, you will need to prove that you’ve earned them. That means presenting documents like transcripts and certificates of completion. So be sure to gather your documents together.

If you don’t have a transcript from a school you’ve attended, contact that school’s registrar’s office and request an official copy. It may cost you a few dollars, but the fee is much cheaper than paying full tuition for a course that you’ve already completed. If you’ve served in the Armed Forces, your training should be listed on your Joint Services Transcript (JST).

If you’ve attended a training session or workshop through your job, you will need some kind of documentation – locate the syllabus, handouts, and other course materials. If you don’t have them, then ask that employer to write you a letter describing the course and verifying that you passed it.

2. Know Your Agreement

Many community colleges have signed articulation agreements with a variety of universities. An articulation agreement lists which courses from your community college may be transferred to each university for credit.

Therefore, it’s crucial for you to know which community colleges you’ve attended. As soon as possible, check what articulation agreements your community college has signed with other universities as you could save yourself a lot of time and money by transferring credits.

3. Look Beyond the Classroom

You lived it. Now use it. Have you served in the armed forces? Started your own business? A lot of your experiences could be worth college credit.

These non-traditional credits can come from work and life experience, military training, or national testing programs like Berlitz Language Evaluation, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST).

  • Prior Learning Assessment
    Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) reviews your:
    - work training,
    - professional development,
    - continuing education, and
    - workshops
    to see if your experience translates into college credit.
  • Military Training
    Many students have served in the Armed Forces, including the reserves and the National Guard. Some universities may recognize that students learn a lot from boot camp, basic training, officer training school, and many other courses provided by the military.
  • National Testing Programs
    Several organizations offer examinations that you can take for a fee. When you pass, you may earn college credit depending on your specific college’s transfer policies. Here are three of these national testing programs and the maximum credits they’re worth:
    1. Berlitz Language Evaluation:
      By passing a Berlitz exam, you may earn up to 18 approved credits, depending on your proficiency in that language.
    2. College Level Examination Program (CLEP):
      CLEP offers 33 exams in five subject areas, covering material taught in courses that you may generally take in your first two years of college. By passing a CLEP exam, you can earn 3 to 12 college credits.(1)
    3. DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST):
      DSST is an effective way to demonstrate your prior learning with 38 different exams.

To see what kinds of life credits you may have, start by reviewing your resume. Look for previous jobs where you took on a big project and learned something new. Could the skills you acquired be worth credit?

4. Talk to an Enrollment Services Advisor

An enrollment services advisor can get your transfer process started on the right foot. Make sure you let the advisor know what schools you’ve attended before. And don’t forget to ask about your life credits, too! The sooner you start this conversation, the better off you’ll be.

Even if it’s too early for the advisor to know exactly how many transfer credits you’ve earned, they can at least put you in contact with the right people who will work on the transfer process with you.

5. Be Patient

Transferring credits requires a little patience and some paperwork. Be prepared for the process to take a few weeks. It all depends on how many transcripts you have and the kinds of non-traditional credits you seek to transfer. Of course, the sooner you send in the required documents, the faster your credits may be evaluated.

The key is to be patient and stay in contact with your advisors, who will update you as often as possible. While you wait for your experience to be evaluated, you can start your courses.

The beauty of transfer credits is that you don’t have to repeat coursework. You only take the courses you need and that saves you time and money. While the process may seem complicated, invest the time and effort. You are worth it!


Written by: Michael Mussman
Michael Mussman is Editor of Forward Thinking, the Ashford University blog.

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This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.