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by Lan Ngo

Navigating College Transfer Credits

September 9, 2014 in All Transfers, Credits, Four-Year Transfer Articles

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We’re a few weeks into the new school year, and some of you freshmen or sophomores out there are already considering transferring. It’s good to get an early start! Looking ahead, one major consideration is whether the classes you’re taking will transfer over to your new, future college. Not getting enough transfer credits could add up to more time as an undergrad and more dollars on your tuition bills. Before you decide on which colleges to apply to, do some homework on whether your colleges of interest will give you transfer credits. The tips below will help start you off.

College Websites

General information about the transferability of credit is usually offered on a college’s website, which is probably the best place to start. As an example, Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences lays out some general guidelines for incoming transfer students. If you have further questions after reading the information, don’t hesitate to email or call the admissions office to see how you can gather more information.

Special Courses and Requirements

Many liberal arts colleges and universities have special writing course requirements, such as first-year writing seminars. That means you might not get credit for the writing course you’re taking as a freshman at your home institution. Again, start by looking at the website of the college you want to transfer.  You might need to look at the college’s writing program website or speak to someone that works in the writing program.  For example, Cornell University’s writing institute determines whether external writing course credits can be transferred to Cornell.

College Specific Online Tools

Some colleges have websites where you can check the transferability of credit from your home institution. See for example, these online tools from the University of Virginia and the University of California system. You’ll notice that such online tools are mostly not available from private institutions.

Department Offices

Depending on the college, the individual departments might be open to speaking with you about transfer credits. If you took (or are taking) an introductory art history course to fulfill a general education requirement, consider contacting the Art History Department of the colleges of your interest to check the transferability. Remember that whatever the department says isn’t necessarily final. Take the information they give you as an approximation, because it’s rare for a college to approve transfer credits before you actually transfer into the college.

Looking into transferability is not easy, and you may come across guidelines that are difficult to understand. Don’t hesitate to call the admissions office for clarification. If they don’t know the answer, they can at least point you in the right direction.

(Photo: Thomas Abbs)

Avatar of Lan Ngo

by Lan Ngo

College Transfer Q&A: Too Many Course Credits?

August 5, 2011 in Admissions, All Transfers, Community College Articles, Credits, Four-Year Transfer Articles, Q&A

Question:

I’ve just finished one academic year at my current university. Because of my heavy course load during both fall and spring semesters, I’ve accumulated 3 semesters’ worth of credit. I want to apply to transfer Spring 2012. Should I apply as a sophomore or junior transfer? If I don’t get into any school for Spring 2012, I want to apply for Fall 2012, but I’m afraid that I’ll have too many credits by then. Should I take a semester off while applying to transfer?

Answer:

Depending on which college/university you apply to, the answer may be different, but we’ll offer a general response that applies to many schools. If you will have 3 semesters of coursework by the time you enter as a spring transfer student, then you should apply as a sophomore. If you will have 4, then you should apply as a junior. You should avoid going beyond 4 semesters of coursework credit because then you would have a higher standing than junior status, and many schools don’t accept transfer students who are beyond junior standing.

You currently have two shots at applying to transfer: the Spring 2012 round of applications and the Fall 2012 round. Here’s a road map that you may follow:

  • Continue attending your current university during Fall 2011, and take a regular course load.
  • Complete transfer applications for Spring 2012, applying as a sophomore.
  • If you don’t get into any of the schools you apply to, take the Spring 2012 semester off and do something productive: intern, work, conduct research, etc. The more closely the work aligns with your major or area of expertise, the better. In the meantime, work on your transfer applications for Fall 2012.

Call each school you’re interested in to confirm that this plan makes sense. There may be a school out there that wouldn’t mind if you had more than 4 semesters of course credit, allowing you to avoid taking time off.

Notes about taking time off: taking time off during college may sound like a scary prospect. However, doing so may actually be quite beneficial. Lan took two terms off while she was an undergrad at Stanford (Stanford is on the quarter system and has 3 terms per academic year, plus the summer term). During one term, she studied Japanese language in Japan. During another term, she took time off to intern at a major electronics company, again in Japan. She found those experiences worthwhile, and they were not detrimental to her record. If anything, those experiences bolstered her profile, not to mention the fact that they provided her with opportunities for great professional, academic, and personal development. Just be sure to do something meaningful and productive during your time off. Also, before returning to school, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to again immerse yourself in college life.

(Photo: Lee J Haywood)

Avatar of Lan Ngo

by Lan Ngo

University of Michigan: Transfer Spotlight

February 4, 2011 in Community College Articles, Credits, Specific College

When people refer to the University of Michigan (U-M), they almost always mean the Ann Arbor campus. From here on, “U-M” denotes the main (Ann Arbor) campus. Note that though U-M-Dearborn and U-M-Flint are also part of the University of Michigan system, transfer students from those schools to U-M are considered new transfers. In this post, we highlight key points primarily for community college transfer applicants.

Brief Background

U-M is a large public, four-year institution with 19 schools and colleges, offering a vast array of areas of study. Sixty-two percent of the students are in-state, which means they benefit from in-state tuition. Nonetheless, a good portion of students are out-of-state, so don’t pass up this school just because you’re not a Michigan resident. You can apply to transfer to one of eleven undergraduate schools or colleges, but you must choose beforehand because the admission process is school/college-specific.

Community College Transfers and U-M

If you’re a community college student looking to transfer to a four-year institution of academic prestige, consider U-M, which is usually considered to be well within the top 50 national universities. Depending on who you ask, U-M may be considered one of the “New Ivies,” comparable to NYU and Northwestern. Very few schools of this caliber have a website devoted exclusively to community college students. Among other useful pieces of information, the website explains that transfers from community colleges are eligible for federal, state, and institutional financial aid, just like other incoming students. In the MythBusters section, FAQs and useful answers are covered. One of the best points covered is closely related to our post on how to overcome a weak high school GPA (click on the link to see our take):

MYTH: Even though I am getting straight As at my community college, my high school grades were bad, which will prevent me from getting into Michigan.

FACT: Not so! We look at the whole person when reviewing applications for admission, not just high-school grades. The fact that your college grades are so much improved will actually work in your favor, because it tells us that you are moving in the right direction. Talking about your struggles in high school and how you overcame them can also be an important part of your essay.

To be a competitive transfer applicant, strive to get straight As in your community college courses. There are over 1,200 incoming U-M transfer students each year, which may sound like a large number, but given the sheer number of transfer applicants–about 3,000 annually–transfer admissions is competitive. Also, consider the bigger picture: in 2006, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a major supporter of community college transfers, reported that the number of community college students transferring to the most competitive institutions had decreased. In 1984, 22.8 percent transferred to the most competitive public universities, but in 2002, the percentage dropped to 18.8.

Transfer Credit

U-M provides detailed information on transfer credit. The vast majority of undergrads are in the College of Literature, Science, and Arts (LSA). Current (and future) community college students in Michigan aiming to transfer to LSA should carefully review the transfer guide for their specific community college here. We highly recommend that Michigan community college students enter a transfer agreement with your community college. If you’re experiencing difficulty deciphering the guidelines, be sure to visit the transfer counselor at your college.

For students at out-of-state community colleges or other institutions, this page has a list of the general education requirements at LSA. Although not strictly required, these are classes that you really should take to make yourself a more competitive transfer applicant. If you want to apply to other U-M schools or colleges, carefully read the information here. The College of Engineering, for example, has a list of specific prerequisites that you must fulfill to be considered for transfer admission.

Conclusion

Applying to U-M can be a great opportunity, but don’t miss your chance by not adhering to transfer admissions guidelines. Visit the links embedded in this post to get more information!

(Photo: snre)