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8 Tips to Successfully Transfer to a Four-Year School

8 Tips to Successfully Transfer to a Four-Year School

8 Tips to Successfully Transfer to a Four-Year School

Jun 6, 2022


There are countless reasons why community college students transfer to four-year institutions. You might just really want a bachelor’s degree, or you received a big scholarship to transfer, the learning accessibility, you might like the location, specific student support services, and more.  

Although the transfer process can be overwhelming, it’s not impossible (seriously!). Check out our eight tips to successfully transfer to a four-year college:  

1. Uphold an excellent grade point average (GPA) 

Keep. Your. Grades. Up. The grades you earn in community college will be essential criteria examined on your official transcript when transferring to a four-year college or university. Ensure your application stays competitive by consistently maintaining good grades in community college each semester. 

2. Dare to declare: Select your specific major 

Although community college is the right place to discover what you are passionate about, don’t delay deciding on your major. Students who plan to move to a four-year school should earn an Associate of Arts degree (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS) degree. These two tracks are your best options if you wish to transfer to a four-year school.  

Once you get to know yourself and lean in to your future goals. You can save time and money by avoiding general education classes that won’t transfer or count toward your ultimate career. The earlier you decide your professional path, the easier and more efficient it will be to complete the prerequisite courses for your program of study. Don’t feel pressured, though! Take your first couple semesters to explore and get the general education classes out of the way so you can focus on major specific classes later.  

3. Explore and examine your ideal four-year institution 

Consider these elements when researching potential four-year institutions:  

  • Internships and study abroad opportunities, 
  • Public vs. private school features, 
  • Programmatic offerings vs. professional objectives, 
  • Student supports in place, 
  • Tuition and transfer policies, 
  • The diversity and size of the student body, 
  • Retention, graduation, and job placement rates, and 
  • Any other factors that may fit into your future needs.  

4. Tackle your transfer to-dos 

Gathering information on the transfer policies and programs from the four-year school of your choice as early as possible will make the overall process more manageable. Also, ensure the college’s transfer policies have not changed by the time you apply, as articulation agreements can change annually. 

Questions to ask: 

  • How many outside transfer credits does the four-year institution allow?  
  • How many credits do I need to be considered a transfer student to avoid the freshman admissions process?  
  • What specific classes or course codes transfer to the four-year school?  
  • What grades or GPA do I need to maintain (typically within a set number of semesters) for admission?  

5. Ask questions  and advocate for your academic future    

We can’t stress this enough: network with the four-year schools you’re interested in transferring to early on. Email the transfer admission counselor. Introduce yourself and ask questions. This will show them you’re serious about the commitment. It will also ensure the first time they hear about you is not when you submit your transfer app. By advocating for yourself, articulating any concerns and questions, and acknowledging your student responsibilities like application deadlines, you can take prompt action and efficiently achieve your educational and professional endeavors. 

6. Find out your financial aid options 

To leave school with the least amount of debt possible, calculate the cost of your investment through higher education net price calculators. Additionally, find out if the four-year institution you wish to attend offers any transfer-specific scholarships (some four-year institutions have partnerships with organizations such as Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society). To advance your financial aid award letters, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and research your eligibility for grants, federal loans, private student loans, and work-study opportunities

7. Train your brain and prepare to pursue your passions 

Transferring to a four-year school is a big step, and the change in environment can be pretty overwhelming. Look into student success exercises and study soft skills such as emotional intelligence, focus techniques, and stress and time management. 

8. Apply! 

You’ve worked hard honing your skills in community college, you researched the right school for you, now it’s finally time to apply to your selected four-year school. 

The application process is more competitive than the open admissions application process in community college, so be prepared to write an admissions essay, gather letters of recommendation (ask early!), and collect certified copies your official transcript from your community college. 

Keep in mind that colleges and universities have strict deadlines. Use a calendar to keep track of the deadlines and make every effort to complete each step of the university application process to avoid any admission holds that may prevent you from registering for classes. 

You got this!

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