Will Your Credits Transfer?

A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics has shed more light on the problem of transfer students losing credit for many of their classes. According to the results of the study, 40% of transferring students lose all of their credits.

Of the students who transferred or "co-enrolled" in another college, about 39 percent transferred no credits, 28 percent transferred some, and 32 percent transferred all previously earned credits. On average, students lost about 13 credits when transferring from their first college, the study found.

Over a third of students ending up transferring at least once in a six-year period of study. Of those who do transfer, the ones who have the most success bringing their credits with them are students who go from a two-year to a four-year college. Students with higher GPAs also have more success with transferring their credits.

Many students who initially enroll in a community college eventually plan to transfer to a four-year school in order to receive a bachelor’s degree. This is a fairly common practice and a smart way for students to save a little money while taking advantage of a more supportive atmosphere in their first year or two of college. Because this process is more common, transferring of credits in this way is often more successful.

According to this study, students who have the least success transferring credits are those going from a four-year school to a two-year school.

The good news is many universities are recognizing this loss of credits as a serious issue for both them and their students. Transfer students who can’t take their credits with them are much less likely to graduate, not to mention the wasted tuition expenses they have paid. This has led to many colleges creating better systems for accepting credit from other universities and more clear policies regarding credit transfers.

Colleges should be making the transfer process clearer and easier for their students, but the student has a large part to play as well. The study found that one of the reasons for students losing their credits is that they did not inform the new college of their previous academic experience! Certainly being organized and assertive in the transfer process will help students to achieve the best outcome.

Takeaways for Students

Are you planning on transferring from a two-year to four-year school? Good. Make sure that you know the policies that are in place, what major you are taking, if that major is offered at both universities, and what the track-record is for students who have gone down this path before.

Are you planning on transferring from a four-year public university to a four-year private? This may be a little bit more difficult. Research your two chosen schools to determine what their policies are regarding this process.

Accreditation can have some effect on the transferability of your credits. Nationally accredited universities tend to accept credit from all other nationally accredited universities as well as regionally accredited. However regionally accredited schools often do not accept credits from colleges that are only nationally accredited. Learn more about the difference here.

Are you not planning to transfer all? That’s great! But you still need to be aware of how common transferring is. Just because you are not planning on it does not mean that you may choose to do so at some point. You are going to be more likely to succeed in your transfer if you keep a high GPA, and make sure you inform your chosen transfer school of all of your previous classes and experience.