How to Transfer Credits from Another College
Whether it's because of a move, time off, or just a desire for a change of scenery, switching colleges doesn't always mean starting from scratch. In many cases, you can transfer college credits over to your new school, giving yourself a great head start as you jump back into your education.
While the process of moving credits from one college to another can be complex, it is far from rare. In fact, one study has estimated that over a third of all undergraduates – and there are millions nationwide ¬– will transfer colleges at least once.
One of the most common scenarios in which people transfer credits is when moving from a community college to a four-year institution. Many community colleges will have what are known as "articulation agreements" with other schools (typically public four-year institutions located in, for example, the same state) that describe the portability of credits from one school to the other.
Individual states can and do even specify their own rules on transferring credits – especially as concerns public community colleges and four-year schools – so you may want to see if your state has rules that could impact you.
It's also common for a student to transfer from one four-year school to another. While this process may not necessarily benefit from the kind of streamlined structure laid out in an articulation agreement, that doesn't mean universities are unwilling to consider giving credit for classes taken elsewhere.
What it does mean, however, is that the rules can vary quite a bit from school to school. As you put together your wish list of schools to transfer to, be sure to look into things like transfer acceptance rate, credit expiration policies, minimum grade requirements, etc. Many schools will have information on their website describing the credit-transfer process, so it's in your best interests to do as much research as possible ahead of time. Remember that is up to the transferee institution—the school you are transferring to—that decides whether to accept any credits from your school.
With that said, what you'll discover is that your new school won't officially review and verify what credits you'll get to transfer in until after you have applied and been accepted. Yes, this process does mean that there is a bit of uncertainty with respect to what kind of head start to expect at your new school. But if you've done your research and picked a school with a well-articulated and generous transfer policy, you should be able to hit the ground running.
Lastly, you may also be able to take advantage of non-traditional credits awarded for experience you've gained outside the classroom. Some schools, for example, may award credits for military experience and training, professional background, national testing programs, and more. Before enrolling, you should be sure to research whether a school that interests you allows for these types of non-traditional credits.
Entering a new school already armed with credits can give you a head start toward obtaining your degree. You can save time, money, and effort by not having to re-take classes or worry about prerequisites – and that's a win-win-win for any student.
Written by Ashford University staff