How Does Transferring From Community College Work?

Ready to start your journey?

If you’re looking to transfer from community college to pursue a 4 year degree, you may have the right idea.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people with a bachelor’s degree or higher have 3% lower unemployment rates and 40% higher median weekly earnings than people with only a high school diploma!

 How Does Transferring From Community College Work

Starting an education journey at a university may not be the most affordable or convenient option for some. You may have found that community college allows you to thrive in smaller class sizes or save money while earning valuable credits.

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For many, achieving an associate’s degree is just the first step on their higher-education journey.

Whether you’re just starting your journey and want to learn about your future options or you’re closing out your time at a 2 year institution, the transition to a university can often be as easy as initially applying to a university!

The college transfer process typically isn’t too different from the first-year application process. You still need to apply to your desired university and get accepted before you can fully transfer.

What to Know In Advance

student exploring the school she's transferring to

If you’re just starting to look at 2 year programs and know you want to eventually transfer or you’ve already started but are not close to graduating, these are a few helpful things you can do:

  • Sign up for a transfer program. There are specific programs you can join that will focus on the courses you need to take in order to transfer to university more easily.
  • Explore schools with articulation agreements. Before applying to universities, it’s important to research if the ones you’re interested in have an articulation agreement with your community college. An articulation agreement is a partnership between multiple higher-learning institutions (universities and community colleges) that makes the transferring process easier.

If your goal is to save money and time while earning your degree, you want to maximize the number of transferable credits you have.

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Some transfer students may not be able to transfer all of their credits earned in community college, so don’t feel too bad if not all of yours transfer. If you plan ahead, you can lower the chances of retaking courses to reclaim the credits.

General Transfer Process Steps

student preparing his application to transfer university

In most cases, the application process for transfer students is very similar to first-year students. You’ll need to check if your desired university accepts Common Applications or if they have their own application. Your application will likely require:

  • An essay
  • High school or community college transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Test scores (these typically hold less weight for transfer students than first-year students)

The application deadlines for transfer students are often different from graduating high school seniors or first-year students, so it’s important to connect with your advisor or research these deadlines in advance.

For example, they may have only one deadline for transfer students or offer rolling admission, meaning they accept applications throughout the year. Most universities offer different fall and spring admission deadlines for transfer students.

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Some universities require students to be enrolled in community college for a certain amount of time or have a certain number of credits before qualifying as a transfer student.

Tips on Transferring to a University

Transfer student attending class in new school

Credit transferability and support for transfer students are two important factors when transferring. There are a few things that can be helpful to keep in mind when transferring:

  • Your GPA is likely a blank slate. Once you’ve been accepted to a university, some credits may transfer, but your GPA is often refreshed. That means at some schools, even if you got a C in a community college class, it won’t impact your GPA at your new school.
  • Some credits may be transferable and still not apply to your major. Your colleges may not be able to find matches for all of your credits in your major classes, but they may count toward general education requirements or elective courses.
  • You can send your transcript for a credit assessment. Are you unsure which credits will transfer? You may send your transcript to the department for your major at your new university for a credit assessment to see what qualifies.

For further tips and help, you may wish to contact your prospective school’s admission department. They can provide you with specific information about transferring to their school.

Next Steps

student attending online school to get college degree

Starting your higher learning journey at a community college is often a cost-effective way to jumpstart the process.

If committing to a full-time, in-person degree is out of reach, it may be worthwhile to find out how fast you can get a bachelor’s degree online. Online schooling is often an affordable and time-saving option for nontraditional students, such as parents or professionals balancing work and school.

Ready to start your journey?
Isaac Scott
WRITTEN BY Isaac Scott

Isaac has a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. His primary focus is accredited schools offering degrees online or in a hybrid format.