Last Updated: May 4, 2016
In the first “transfer myths” post, I talked about making friends on campus—how transfer students could not only find their niche on campus but thrive there. Today, I’m tackling a myth that I’m sure is as much a deterrent to potential transfer students as the fear of not finding a BFF on campus . . . probably even more so.
Myth: transfer students don’t graduate on time.
Truth? It’s not impossible to graduate on time as a transfer student—but it is hard. The thing is, transfer students do face a lot of challenges when it comes to completing their required classes in time: Credits that won’t transfer. The time and money associated with catching up. Not to mention dealing with the stress of just going to a new school—it’s a pretty big life event, no matter how you slice it.
Fortunately, most schools have resources and policies in place to help transfer students stay on track (academically, certainly, but also socially and emotionally!). Not the least of those resources are transfer counselors, and their office should be your first stop.
The earlier you start preparing, the better. Ideally, you’ll go into your first school, whether it’s a community college or another four-year institution, fully intending to transfer. Even better? Knowing the school you want to transfer into. That way you can start working with your transfer counselors in both schools from day one, and they can guide you in taking all the right steps—and all the right classes—to make your transfer as easy as possible. And, truly, students do it every year.
If you know that you want to start your college career at a community college and then transfer to a four-year school, start by looking into articulation agreements. An articulation agreement ensures a smooth transfer of credits between community colleges and local universities, usually public schools; they have predetermined which classes and credits are transferable. States like New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Florida have such agreements with handy websites in place to make planning your college years even easier! (If you think you might benefit from articulation agreements, do a simple Web search to see what your state has to offer.) Things like articulation agreements make the switch easier and the likelihood of on-time graduation higher.
Of course, the decision to switch schools is often unexpected, like when the haze of perfection burns off of that college that seemed so great as a high school student. But the reach-out-to your-counselor-ASAP rule still holds true. Even before you’ve put the transferring wheels in motion, as soon as you think to yourself, “Hmm . . . I need to drop this school like it’s hot,” you should make an appointment with a transfer counselor. And once you have an idea of which school(s) you may transfer into, contact transfer counselors there as well. They should explain to you any transfer-specific resources, like priority class registration, or disadvantages, like fewer financial aid opportunities. Either way, you want to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and make sure you have that transfer counselor in your corner.
After transferring, you may have luck closing the gap by taking classes during the summer; often slightly cheaper than academic-year classes, you’ll still be spending a little more in tuition overall, but they can help keep you on track for a four-year graduation. If you plan carefully and stay connected with resources on campus, you can make that on-time graduation a reality.