A guide for transferring colleges
Many things in life can affect your educational plans - a change in work schedule, a new baby, a relocation or completion of an associate degree. But life changes don't mean you have to give up your dream of earning a degree. Sometimes, transferring colleges can be the key to continuing your education. Many students in two-year community college programs assume they'll transfer their credits to a four-year college after earning their associate degree. Other transferees will be students in a four-year school who find - for whatever reason - their current school is not a good fit. Transferring colleges involves convincing another school to give you credit for what you've already learned and it's something that's not always as easy, obvious and seamless as you might think. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) estimates that about a third of students who begin at either a four- or two-year university or college, will transfer during their college careers, based on figures from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of Education. That means you'll likely face as much competition for a spot as a transfer student as if you entered as a first-year student straight out of high school. To ensure your transfer is successful, keep these tips in mind: Guard your GPA When it comes to transferring colleges, your grade-point average (GPA) is like a credit score: the higher the better. In fact, an NACAC survey of colleges and universities found that more than 90 percent said they considered a transfer student's college GPA "considerably important and nearly 60 percent said grades in transferrable courses were also very important. If your high school performance was less than stellar, the first year or two in college is a chance to do better, and achieve a GPA that will make you more competitive when you apply to transfer to a four-year institution. Arm yourself with documentation The biggest question you'll face as a transfer student is how much credit your new school will give you for classes you took at your previous college. Visit the admissions office of your new school with a copy of the course catalog from your old one. The detailed course descriptions in that catalog may help you demonstrate that you deserve transferable credit for the classes you've already taken. Also, many community colleges have transfer agreements with four-year colleges so you can easily find out which courses transfer. You may also need a copy of your high school transcript, although the NACAC study found that high school grades tend to be less important for transfer students. You should only provide your high school transcript if you're asked for it, but have it on hand just in case. Once you've gone through the admissions process and have made sure all your transferrable credits are recognized, you'll be ready to start the next chapter in your academic life.