Know When to TransferPrepare for your transfer early. The earlier you think about transferring, the better. Deadlines for admission and financial aid are usually in the early spring for fall transfers and in the late fall for spring transfers.
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- First Semester: Meet with your transfer advisor, research four-year colleges that interest you, and become familiar with their transfer policies. Consider your academic and career goals.
- Second Semester: Visit the campuses of four-year schools. Talk to the transfer coordinator in the admissions office during your visit.
- Third Semester: Learn what financial aid opportunities are available, begin collecting applications, ask for letters of recommendation, request transcripts, and keep track of deadlines. Also, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Fourth Semester: Submit your transfer application.
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Articulation ProgramsCommunity colleges are aware of their role as a stepping stone for students. To assist students in the transfer process, many public community colleges and public four-year schools have articulation agreements. Articulation agreements between two- and four-year schools ensure that an associate’s degree will satisfy all freshmen and sophomore year general education requirements at the four-year college. For example, if you earn an associate’s degree at Community College A, which has an articulation agreement with University B, your credits are guaranteed to transfer as long as you earned passing grades. Articulation agreements often have geographic restrictions; know the policies of the four-year school you will be applying to. The Education Commission of the States provides more information on specific state’s articulation policies.
Make Sure Your Credits TransferIf your community college does not have an articulation agreement, research what credits will transfer. Details about a college’s transfer program are available in its catalog or on its Web site. “You really have to take the initiative if you go to community colleges to find out what will transfer and what won’t because otherwise you’re wasting your time and money,” says Richard O’Brien, who transferred from Danville Area Community College to the University of Illinois. Factors that influence whether credits will transfer include:
- College and/or state transfer policies: Colleges determine which credits they will accept, with some schools influenced by state-wide articulation programs.
- Appropriateness of the course: Institutions tend to accept credits from programs and courses that are similar to those they offer.
- Grade received in course: Applicants must meet minimum grade requirements for their credits to be considered for transfer.
- Proper accreditation and educational quality of the institution/course: You can check if an institution is accredited on the Department of Education’s Web site and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
- Time limits: Policies differ from school to school, but many schools have time limits on transfer credits. If the credits you hope to transfer were earned more than a year ago, consult the credit transfer policies at the four-year school.