[Toolkit] Understanding Transfer Credit

by | Oct 22, 2021

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your college credit course. Now what?

If you are ready to start applying to the colleges where you want to continue your educational journey, you are probably wondering how you get your credit from here to there. It can be a simple process, but it helps to have as much information going into it as possible.

To help with the transfer process, we created a toolkit with definitions, checklists, and questions to ask your admissions counselor to help you make the most of your transfer credit.

Download the Toolkit

Evaluating Transfer Credit

There are several ways to earn college credit before you enroll in the school you will ultimately graduate from. For example, you can take dual credit courses in high school or take a community college course over the summer. But before that credit can be applied to your degree, your target school needs to evaluate it.

When you ask a college or university to accept the credits you earned from a different institution, they want to make sure what you learned in those courses is comparable to what you would learn had you taken the course from their institution. They can do this by knowing the school and course you want to transfer. In this case, your target institution might have an articulation agreement stating that credit automatically transfers. This is common among community colleges and their local four-year institutions.

Another way institutions check on the quality of the credit being transferred is by looking at the accreditation of the school where you earned the credit. There are two primary types of accreditation: regional and national. The regional accrediting bodies tend to be stricter than the national accreditors, so credit from a regionally accredited university is more likely to transfer than credit from a nationally accredited university.

The most important thing to remember is the decision to accept transfer credit will always be up to the receiving university.

Here are the general steps to transferring your dual credit to the college or university where you want to study. Be sure to check out the toolkit for details and more information on the process.

Step 1: Request your transcript

Once you have completed the college-credit courses you plan to take, reach out to the credit-granting partner to request a transcript. You’ll do this again once you are ready to apply to your target schools but have the transcript sent to you. This will help you understand the process and make sure you know what is on your transcript. If there is a discrepancy, you have time to fix it. There is typically a small fee to send your transcript, usually about $20.

Step 2: Do an Unofficial Review of Your Transcript

The school will do an official review of your transcript after you apply, but there are tools that will help you get an idea of what courses are likely to transfer as elective credit and which courses will transfer one-to-one course credit. Spend some time looking at the school’s website for their transfer policy. They may also have a database of schools they have articulation agreements and courses they have already evaluated.

If the school doesn’t have a database, you can use a tool such as Transferology to research. Just know that just because a school or a course isn’t in a database doesn’t mean it won’t transfer. It will give you more information to talk to your admissions counselor about when you get to that point.

Doing an unofficial review may also help you better identify schools you want to apply to. If a school looks like it might transfer all of your credit as electives or as direct transfers, it might be worthwhile to keep the school on your list. Definitely keep in mind the credit-granting partner. You know your credit will apply there!

Step 3: Talk With an Admissions Counselor

Set up a time to talk with the admissions counselor at the schools you are most interested in applying to. They will have the most familiarity with the transfer process or be able to introduce you to someone who does. The admissions counselor won’t be able to say for certain how your credit will transfer, but they will likely be able to answer bigger questions on their transfer policy and what they’ve seen as they’ve helped other students with transfer credit. They can also help you set expectations on the process and timeline.

If you earned an associate degree while you were in high school, they may have you talk with someone who helps upperclassmen transfer to their school.

Learn More with Our Transfer Toolkit

If you are looking to transfer three credit hours or 60, the more information you have, the better the process will be. Download the Transfer Toolkit to learn more about the different ways credit can transfer, the difference between regional and national accreditation, and why it’s important to understand the degree plan for your major.

Get the Transfer Toolkit

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