University Course Transfer
Transferring to a four-year College or University from a Community or Two-year College in the U.S. might have tremendous advantages that will help you succeed in your goal, even though the path may be confusing at first.
When taking on a big goal or task it is often good to start with the end in mind, and then analyse and strategise various paths of how you will reach your goal. Your educational and Career goals, to put it mildly, are some of the biggest decisions in your life, as they will likely impact all facets of your existence from this point on.
University Course Transfer
So it is important to be aware of all your options, especially if you want a bachelor's degree from a U.S. college or university. So before you rush off and only apply directly to your chosen colleges or universities you may want to consider all your options including the transfer route.
If you are reading this article this far I am going to assume that you have, or at least are considering a bachelors degree from an U.S. college or university.
Whole books have been written on the subject of transfer, but here I hope to briefly give you some of the advantages and key steps of transferring from a two-year or community college, It is also important to note that these advantages are the same for international students as well as American students.
This article does not intend to infer that transfer is the better path, only that it is a good option for some, and that each individual and their circumstances will dictate what is best for them.
Know what your getting: What makes up a Bachelors Degree
The higher education system in the United States is structured in a way that most undergraduate (four-year) degrees and programs are built upon a philosophy of providing a comprehensive education that is a balanced combination of general education courses, commonly referred to as "G.E.", and major courses or courses of specialisation.
Although this educational formula for a bachelor's degree may vary slightly at some schools, most break their degrees into two year's of G.E. and two years of major courses.
The Advantages of Starting at a Community College
Below you start considering options you should he aware of the advantages of why starting out at a community college may be better for you, For most community colleges the very mission, or at least part of its core responsibility be successful at a four-year university where they will receive their bachelors degree.
Knowing that transfer is part of the community college mission it is easy to see why the following advantages exist.
To start with there is the dedicated faculty and smaller size classes. At two-year colleges the faculty can concentrate on teaching their courses (the same content and quality as that of the first two-years at most universities) that prepare students for transfer.
Community college faculty generally do not have competing interests that would distract from their teaching students introductory college courses and being available to students. For example they do not have to think about research projects, project funding, or getting their works published.
Without these competing interests they are free to concentrate on educating and helping students directly. They are generally available more frequently to help students with questions or problems they may have, and thus increase the students chance of success.
With student focused faculty the access to these instructors is magnified even more when one sees that at many community colleges the class sizes for the key general education courses or major preparation courses are smaller than that of the larger four-year schools.
The fewer number of students in each class allows for better access to the teacher and also more individualised attention, which again translates into better learning and potential student success.
The smaller classes and the individualised attention mentioned above is often available in other areas of the community college as well including labs, tutoring, and counselling or advising services.
These are key components that support student success, and allow them to become familiar with all the tools and skills that one needs to meet their educational goal.
Another critical element of success when studying away from home is socialisation, or becoming part of the campus community.
Many universities have outstanding programs for helping students fit in and feel at home, but the natural nurturing environment of a community college campus makes similar programs there even more effective.
Dedicated staff and faculty, along with special programs generally give students a sense of belonging to the campus community more rapidly than in other settings, and thus allow them to become successful students even quicker.
The most often cited, but perhaps least advantageous benefit is the cost savings of a community college. Although the tuition of many community colleges is a fraction of that of the four-year school, the benefits mentioned previously are far more valuable when looking at the total educational experience than just a few thousand dollars in savings.
A less visible benefit of the lower tuition costs of a community college is the reality that sometimes students may change their minds about their major.
This may be the result of actually starting in the preparation courses and then a student realises that what they perceived their interests and goals to be are actually in another field or major. The community college typically allows for more flexibility in the early stages of a student's college program.
When one then factors in the lower tuition the monetary cost of a potential major change no longer is impacting the decision as much, and the student can then concentrate on what is best for them in relation to their goals and not so much the money.
The Greatest Advantage: Success at the Four-Year School
Perhaps the greatest advantage is that of the success rate of students that transfer to four-year schools.
In several reports and studies it has been found that the preparation given at the community college level has allowed those students that do transfer to be relatively as successful (if not a little more depending on the report) compared with the students that start out at the university.
These reports have shown that transfer students perform relatively the same both academically (grade point average) and in reaching their goals (persistence) of receiving a bachelors degree.
These findings help support the belief that community colleges can provide an equally good foundation for educational success, as do the first two years of many universities.
Lastly, transfer students who graduate with a bachelor's degree from the four-year school leave with the same degree and title of those that were there for the full term of their studies.
If there is no difference with the end product, why would someone not consider something that would be more advantageous for them?
Taking the Next Step: The Transfer Process
The transfer path can seem confusing, however there are a number of professionals at most community colleges that are dedicated to help students transfer and some even have there entire jobs dedicated to this task.
Even at the four-year colleges and universities there are personnel assigned to assist and even recruit transfer students from community colleges.
This may not be the case at all universities, however, many want and need transfer students to meet their enrolment goals by filling the spots that are open from students that leave.
So it is important to realise transfer students are generally in demand and that there are people and tools that help make the process that at first appears difficult and confusing become simple, realistic and attainable.
To start the process some research will need to be done to ensure that the universities you want to transfer to have your major available and then if they are open to transfer students. Although, transfer is very common, there are some rare exceptions.
That is where community college counsellors or advisors should he sought out. These people vary from college to college and range from faculty, to staff, to even professional counsellors that can serve as a tool and resource all through the transfer process.
These people can point you to universities with the best reputations and that are most compatible with your particular needs and interests.
Once you have selected a program or major you will also want to select more than one school. The reason for this is that many factors may influence your transfer to your first choice school so it is a good idea to have an alternative choice, in the event something happens beyond your control and prevents you from being admitted to that university.
Once you have identified your goal you will work closely with your counsellor and advisor to literally make a map to your educational goal. This is typically called an educational plan and charts out the progression of courses you will need to take over a given period to transfer successfully.
These educational plans identify the necessary GE courses for transfer that should be taken and any prerequisite or preparation for the major courses that are required or are available prior to transfer.
Depending on a students entering ability, major and targeted university, educational plans may range from two years to as many as three or more.
To create this educational plan or map counsellors work with very detailed information provided by the universities. This information may come from the university catalogue, special bulletins and communications from that school.
In many instances the community colleges and universities have formal agreements regarding the transfer of courses. These are called articulation agreements, and are like a contract between the two schools that ensures how the courses taken at the community college will transfer to the university.
These agreements serve as a guarantee of what requirements for the bachelors degree a student will meet prior to transfer, and so it allows a student with planning to only take what is required at the university and spend the minimal amount of time there. In other words educationally efficient.
At some schools there are even special transfer agreements that have been created between community colleges and universities that may give priority or special admission consideration to their students if certain requirements have been met.
These articulation and transfer agreements are not always necessary, however they are an effective tool to help make the transfer process easier.
These agreements typically (not always) exist primarily between community colleges and universities within the same region or area, where there is a history of students transferring and the schools are familiar with one another’s courses and curriculum.
So this may want to be something you consider wlIen selecting a school, however it should be emphasised that these agreements are not required and transfer can easily be done in the same manner by working with an adviser or counsellor.
Students should continue to meet with their counsellors frequently (once a semester is recommended), to check there progress, make any adjustments to their plan as needed and to be sure there have been no changes in the transfer admissions requirements.
The final stage of the transfer process is the application process, which may start as much one year prior to actually transferring.
For example, you may plan on transferring in the fall of 2000, and the school or program you want has an application deadline of November 1999.
The deadline reflects only the filing of the necessary papers and you will likely need time to get together letters of recommendation, transcripts, essays and possibly even a portfolio if required and that alone will take at least one month.
Continuing to work with the community college counsellor and following all the instructions of the admissions counsellor at the university will greatly enhance your chances of success by not letting you miss any of the requirements.
Be sure to sign the application and submit all of the required items by the deadline. Deadline dates are extremely important, and there are usually few exceptions made for even good students who miss the deadline, or are lacking something in their application file.
Once your application is submitted just sit back and await the response from them. If you do not get a letter of receipt from the school after six to eight weeks you may want to call to be sure they have received your application.
Four-year schools typically take several months to reach an admission decision, so if you do not hear anything for a while that is normal, However, if you are within three months from the start of the term for which you applied for you should follow-up again.
Before you know it you should have a decision of your own to make about which school you want to go to if you are admitted to more than one school.
Remember to learn all your options before you decide, because an educated and informed decision is likely going to be a better decision for you.