Students decide to transfer due to finances, academics, institutional fit, and a host of other reasons. Of course, once the decision to leave their current school is made, many students start feeling anxiety and confusion because they are unsure of what to actually do to begin the transfer process. But that doesn’t mean transfer students need to go it alone. While the transfer student is responsible for being proactive throughout their admission process, there are many useful campus resources that can help them both figure out the best new college match for them and how to get there.
Whether transferring from a community college or a four-year institution, transfer students can still make use of college search databases such as Naviance or CollegeXpress. Sites like these feature search tools and surveys that help with narrowing down transfer schools based on the student’s interests (e.g., location, area of study, and financial need), and they also provide details about a specific institution’s application requirements and deadline dates. These services are often free, and academic advisors and guidance counselors can offer additional guidance.
Related: How to Find Your Transfer College
Campus advising centers
Most two- and four-year colleges and universities have an advisement center or at least one academic advisor. Visiting with an advisor may prove to be the most important resource at a student’s disposal. They can assist with understanding the process for transferring credit from one school to the next, and they can help with understanding which academic program would be best upon transferring schools. Students enrolled in community college should not only speak with the academic advisor but also to the specific transfer student coordinator. Transfer coordinators can contact the enrollment representative at a four-year institution to retrieve application information, request application fee waivers, and learn about the best way to expedite the admission process.
While transfer students are no longer high school students, they can still take advantage of college fairs, which are open to both high school and college students. Visit the admission page of any four-year college website and they are likely to have a list of upcoming college fairs in the immediate area. Future transfer students should bring an unofficial college transcript to their college fairs too so that when visiting an admission representative’s table, they can present their academic information and get a sense of whether or not they will meet the academic criteria for admission.
A majority of community colleges will also hold at least one transfer student fair each year. (Many hold two!) By participating in the transfer fair, students will often have the opportunity to meet the primary transfer enrollment representative from the four-year school, and they can begin building a relationship prior to submitting the application for admission. College representatives enjoy getting to meet prospective applicants prior to admission committee reviews, so if the opportunity is there, students should take advantage!
Many two- and four-year schools have different types of admission agreements to help ease the transfer process for their students. When researching colleges, transfers should look out for these commonly used admission agreement opportunities, which can greatly assist with the transfer experience:
2+2 articulation agreements
Most commonly used as partnership agreements between community colleges and relatively nearby four-year institutions, these articulation agreements provide specific course requirements for every semester a student is enrolled at the community college. Students that follow the required course plan and complete their associate degree with a specific GPA can then apply to specific four-year schools where they will be guaranteed admission—with all course work transferring seamlessly.
3+2 articulation agreements
These are often partnerships between two four-year institutions. If one school doesn’t offer a specific major (like Engineering or Nursing), they may create an agreement with another school that does offer those programs. The student can spend three years of study at one institution, completing specific prerequisite classes, then transfer to the second school to complete the required core classes for the specific degree. Ultimately, the student will graduate with two bachelor’s degrees and will have experienced college life at two different four-year schools. These agreements work well for students with a desire to study in two different parts of their state or those with an eye on reducing their college costs.
Joint admission agreements
In rare instances, students accepted to a community college will simultaneously be granted admission to a specific four-year school. As long as the student completes their two-year degree with a specific cumulative GPA, they will automatically be granted an acceptance to the four-year institution.
Guaranteed admission agreements
Guaranteed agreements are similar to 2+2 articulation agreements, but they will not provide a specific degree plan while a student is enrolled at the community college. Instead, these agreements will often refer the student to the community college curriculum for degree completion and then require that they take one or two additional courses in order to transfer to the four-year school with junior standing.
Related: State-by-state lists of colleges with articulation agreements
Transferring from one school to another does not have to be stressful. There are many resources available to all types of transfer applicants. But for the most pleasant transfer experience, communication is key. The more students ask questions of advisors and transfer admission personnel, the easier the transition will be and the more knowledgeable they will become about varied opportunities and processes. Students can get the support they need to go through the transfer experience, from beginning to end. One school to another.