Transferring Colleges: Two-Year to Four-Year
There are lots of reasons – financial, academic, lifestyle – to start your college career at a two-year college. Whatever went into your decision, you’ve changed and been changed by your two years at community college. Now that you’re thinking about applying to a four-year college, what do you do?
First, consider your priorities. What’s most important to you? Is it finishing as quickly as you can, even if that means a more expensive option, or are finances driving the bus? Is it enrolling in a specific school, or perhaps a specific department or program? Are you able to move to a new city or state, or are you only considering schools nearby? Do you have other priorities? Being clear about what you want – what’s possible, what’s affordable, what’s practical – will be the first step in making sure the next ones are in the right direction.
If your focus is on saving money and completing as many credits as you can at your (likely) more affordable two-year school before you transfer, keep the credit policy of your target institutions in mind. Some colleges only grant degrees to those who complete a minimum of two years (or usually 60 semester credit hours) on their campuses; some will confer degrees to transfers who complete just their final year. In either case, it’s likely that you’ll need to transfer to get your upper division courses – those usually at the junior or senior level – and meet graduation requirements. Be careful when planning your course selection, making use of the information from your target school to ensure that you’re maximizing your time and savings.
If your focus is finishing your degree as quickly as you can and you are less concerned about cost, think about your timing. When do you want to start at your new school? Many four-year colleges happily admit transfers in any term (fall, spring, summer, and in some cases even intersession terms), while others accept transfers only in the fall. If a college has an application deadline of January 15th, and they only admit transfers in the fall, then on January 16 you can’t hope to enroll in that school for another 19 months! That might be okay if that college or university is your dream school; if your goal is to move into a four year program and get your BA or BS as quickly as possible, it might mean removing that school from your list.
As you can tell from all of this, timely planning is very important, and to be able to do that you need reliable information. Start with your current school’s transfer center, and find out their policies and support services. Does your school have an articulation agreement or a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) that defines outcomes (admission to the school you’re targeting!) for certain benchmarks (courses and grades)? If so, that can greatly simplify your path. If not, or if you are targeting a four-year school that doesn’t participate, be in touch with your target school or schools. They are the ones that set the policies, the timing, the requirements, and the minimum expectations you’ll need to satisfy to be a successful transfer student.
So as you prepare to transfer to a four year school, set your priorities, plan early and well by gathering information from both your current and target schools, and work hard! After all, the harder you work and the stronger your record, the more choices you’re likely to have.