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Transferring To A Four-Year University: What You Need To Know

It has become a common practice for many students to attend two years at a community college, then transfer to a four-year college or university. The movement is common enough that it has its own name – the “2 + 2 model.” If you’re considering pursuing this type of educational career, here are a few tips and things to consider.


Why go to community college first?

Every year, approximately 11 million students register for a community college. Students choose these institutions for a variety of reasons, but often times it is a financial decision. A two-year Associate Degree is much cheaper than a four-year university degree. Moreover, you can earn your degree or diploma faster than you would earn a Bachelor’s Degree at a four-year college.

Yet, there are students who are using community college as a starting point and as a way of determining what they hope to pursue and what they are good at. For some, a two-year program is enough, but others use community college as a stepping stone and as a way of preparing themselves for a four-year program. The transfer process is generally straight-forward and is regularly done in certain fields, but it is important to understand requirements and what credits will transfer before you decide to begin taking courses.

Who transfers?

Transferring from a two to a four-year program is not for everyone in community college. It appeals to some students more than others. These students are:

  • Cost conscious: They can afford two years at a community college but not four at a four-year educational facility. This way they can get the degree they want for less.
  • Working at improving their grades: If your high school GPA is low, attending a community college gives you another chance to raise your grades.
  • In need of that extra something: Four-year colleges look at more than grades. They look at extracurricular events and involvement. Attending a community college can give you the chance to become involved and make your application stand out in this regard.
  • Working: Community colleges allow students to work and save money while they work toward transferring.

Before you make the switch, no matter how suitable you may be, it is important that you understand the process.

All institutions are not created equal

You may go to an accredited community college, and have taken the right courses, but are they compatible with the four-year college you want to attend? There are certain things you need to know before you being the paperwork. They include:

  • Transfer requirements: Each educational institution has established a different series of rules governing applications from community college students e.g. courses taken, GPA average, etc.
  • Courses: Are you taking courses that are applicable to the new program? Do they fit into the curriculum of the four-year program? Will any be lost or discounted? There are transfer programs that solve this problem for you.
  • Articulation agreement: Do the two educational facilities have in place a special transfer agreement?
  • Scholarships/financial aid: Be sure the two are compatible when it comes to forms of financial aid.

Be sure to ask questions and talk to admissions offices about any special requirements. This is the best way, along with perusing the catalogues online of universities and community colleges, to find out if and how you can transfer. Start early, before you even begin taking courses so you know whether your credits will be compatible.

Before you even attend the community college, talk to your high school advisor. Plan ahead so that there will be no surprises if and when you decide to make your move and leave community college behind for the halls of a four-year university.

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The Author

Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.