The Pros and Cons of Transferring From Community College to a 4-Year School

Lots of students go to community colleges with the intent to transfer to a four-year school. Is it the right choice for you?

Where to go to college is a huge decision. For some students, it means going straight into a four-year college or university; for others, it’s going to a community college first and then transferring to a four-year school. There are good and bad aspects to either option. Here are some of the pros and cons of the transfer route.

Pros of transferring

Transferring from a community college to a four-year school isn't as crazy as it seems! For students who don't feel fully ready to go off to a four-year college or who want to get their general courses out of the way to save money, starting at a community college is a great option.

  • Community college is generally a lot cheaper than a traditional four-year college. Earning general education credits at a community college and transferring into a four-year school can help you save quite a lot of money.
  • Community colleges help you explore different majors to help you get an idea of what you might want to study.
  • Not only does going to a community college let you adjust to college coursework but it also allows you to stay close to home if you aren't feeling ready to go out on your own just yet.
  • Community colleges offer many more night courses, and class schedules are flexible for students who are also working to save money.
  • For international students, attending a community college first helps for a smoother transition into a four-year college later on.
  • You can earn your associate degree in about two years, so if something comes up that forces you to postpone a four-year college and go straight into the workforce, you can find plenty of jobs with this degree.
  • Lots of states have special programs (articulation agreements) set up between in-state community colleges and public schools to make transferring easier.
  • Your high school standardized tests scores might be less important in your transfer application (depending on the four-year school and how long you’ve been out of high school).
  • Community colleges and four-year schools often have transfer counselors who can help you during process.
  • You can meet other transfer students at your new school during the transfer orientation and maybe by living in a transfer student dorm.

Cons of transferring

Despite these good things about transferring, there are also some potential problems as well.

  • The curriculum at a community college is more limited to general education classes and specific jobs (like medical technology, hospitality management, and aviation or automotive repair), so if you know exactly what you want to do in life (and it’s not covered at the community college), then you may be better off starting in that major at a four-year school.
  • The workload is lighter, and although this sounds nice at first, you may not be fully prepared for the amount of work that is required at a four-year college.
  • It might be harder to get into your four-year school as a transfer; admission rates tend to be slightly lower for transfer students.
  • Transfer scholarships might be limited.
  • You would miss many social opportunities and opportunities to meet people that are unique to freshman year.
  • It can be harder to feel like you fit in at the university you are attending, especially with the people in your classes who have known each other for longer.

For many students, the transfer route is a good way to go; it helps you adjust to college courses and save up money before you head off on your own to a four-year university. Other students with a clear idea of what they want to study might be better off going straight into a four-year college. But no matter what your college decision, there is always a silver lining.

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