How to transfer from a community college to a four-year university (and use your credits!)

College is the time to learn about who you are and what you want to do. Many students attending community college plan to transfer to a four-year anniversary after completing their associate’s degree. This 2+2 setup is an easy way to save on your tuition bill! But how do you jumpstart your transfer process and use your credits?

Step 1: Plan ahead with your classes and applications

We have to make a lot of decisions in this new “world” of college. What major we want to study, what college or university is best for us, who we want to hang out with, and so on. Your major is one of the first aspects you’ll need to decide. Many community colleges recommend you front-load general classes. Depending on your major, this can range from geometry to biology, sociology to communication. Think “intro” classes. The downside with gen-ed classes is those credits might not be accepted at a four-year university. 

Unsure of what major is best for you? Check out your school’s career center!

Many community colleges (and four-year universities) offer college career center services for free! You can make an appointment, practice interviews, and take an assessment to better understand what college major is right for you. This is the perfect opportunity to understand what you’re interested in when you’re caught between studying Psychology and Communications.

It’d be more beneficial for you to choose a major and earn semester credits in those specific courses early in the game. That way, more of your credits have a chance to be accepted later down the line. 

Students transfer to four-year university

Step 2: Talk to your advisor

But let’s back up one more step: discuss your schedule with your advisor. Your advisor will be a tremendous resource throughout the entire transfer process. You can clarify which credits will qualify to transfer, understand whether you’ll receive an associate’s degree, find out what four-year universities accept transfer students, and discuss financial aid options you have. This will save you a lot of work and heartbreak later on when you’re trying to transfer.

Students discussing college options

Your advisor might give you an estimated timeline of where you should be with your credits to have just 2 more years at a 4-year university, to graduate with a BA.

Step 3: Review your options

Some community colleges have partnered with four-year universities through “articulation agreements.”

For example, DirectConnect to UCF is a popular Florida transfer program. Select students studying a Valencia College track may be offered guaranteed admission to the University of Central Florida. Students must graduate with their Associate of Arts or their Associates of Science. 

How is this possible? The community college and four-year university have an articulation agreement, or partnership, with each other. These programs promote a smoother transition for students, while promoting higher education. Keep in mind: colleges with an articulation agreement may hold certain transfer policies, so remember to find out those policies early (see: talk to your advisor), and then stay on top of your transfer track. Take the initiative with your future.

Student applying to transfer from community college to four-year university

Colleges determine what credits they’ll accept

You worked hard and woke up every day to earn your credits at your community college. Now that you want to transfer, you’ll need to research colleges that accept transfers, plus the college credits they accept. Some universities are influenced by state-wide articulation programs to accept or deny college credits. Speak with your community college advisor and double-check — no, triple-check — what credits the four-year universities accept. 

Student applying to transfer from community college to four-year university

Step 4: Follow up, follow up, follow up!

Always speak with your advisor to see if there are updates on transfer applications, information, and credit transfers. Be proactive! Your advisors are busy multitasking, and in the end, you’re the one person you can count on. Make sure you’re on par with other juniors at a four-year university to ensure you have the best experience ahead of you. Plan early, understand all the details, and be assertive. Ask questions and clarify all the information.

Student celebrating college transfer

Step 5: Don’t forget about financial aid

Try our MerryBudget to estimate how much your four-year university will cost, and budget for what you’ll need in scholarships and tuition. Then, apply for financial aid and get matched for scholarships through state-funding and the Going Merry scholarship search. We also have a new list of College Scholarships (institutional scholarships and grants offered directly by universities), most of which are applicable for transfer students too. 

We’re here for you all the way. Sign up for Going Merry today for free to apply for scholarships and keep all of your applications in one place. We’re your one-stop shop for scholarship searches and applications.

Kelly Lamano

Though always a creative, Kelly's momentum into the world of writing and publishing arrived when she attended college. She quickly learned the financial value - and cost - of honing her craft, and sought scholarships that would be crucial to not only funding, but fueling her education. She wants to help new students thrive with Going Merry's easy scholarship finder. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree in Broadcast, Print and Online Media, and a minor in Spanish from Florida Southern College.

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