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Tips for Transferring from a Two- to Four-Year College

  • Due to the rising cost of postsecondary education, many students are choosing to attend a less expensive two-year community college before transferring to a more costly four-year college or university. Although this can be a great strategy, two-year college students need to prepare themselves for their eventual transfer to ensure a positive and stress-free experience. Here are some tips to ease your future transfer to a four-year institution:

    Plan ahead
    It is never too early to plan ahead. Most community colleges have transfer counselors to answer questions and assist with planning your transfer. It is important to identify where you intend to transfer and your transfer options to avoid spending more time (and possibly more money) completing your lower-division coursework. Many public colleges and universities have transfer agreements which outline the specific curriculum or associate degree you should complete before transferring. Upon transfer, the four-year college accepts and applies many, if not all, transfer credits. Many colleges also guarantee admission and provide a tuition incentive.

    Find out how your credits transfer
    If your community college does not have a clear university transfer agreement, contact your future four-year institution to speak with an academic advisor. Discuss with them the credits you have completed thus far, courses you intend to take, and other courses you should take before transferring. Contacting a college representative and having this discussion before you transfer will help you write essays and avoid any unwanted surprises.

    Apply early
    Once it is time to begin your transfer, you will need to apply for admission at the new institution. Your two-year college likely had a quick registration or application process. However, four-year colleges and universities with more selective admission requirements can take much longer to issue admission decisions. Because the process may take longer than expected, it is critical that you apply early. Check the college or university website for application deadlines. Most will have a specific deadline for transfer applicants. Keep in mind that it does not hurt to apply early, but if you apply too late your enrollment may be delayed.

    Attend orientation
    Once you're admitted, your new school will likely have a new student orientation program. Many transfer students feel they don't need orientation since they have already been a college student, but every school is different. Do yourself a huge favor and attend. So much valuable information is shared at orientation regarding campus resources, course registration, important dates and deadlines, engagement opportunities, and graduation requirements. Students who don't attend may miss out on this information entirely. Orientation also provides an occasion to network with university staff, faculty, and current students.

    Meet other students
    Transfer students often miss out on the new student activities that are geared toward first-year freshman and feel isolated, but engagement is vital to the success of all students. You may have to try a bit harder, but do your best to meet other students. Introduce yourself to your peers, join an on-campus club or organization, seek out student employment, and find other ways to get involved. It might feel awkward at first, but you will benefit academically and socially from connecting with other students on campus.

    The transfer process can be daunting, but these tips will help you prepare for a successful and seamless. Don't forget to plan ahead and contact the institution where you intend to transfer. Good luck!