When students enroll in a college or university, they usually have no intention of transferring to another school until they have completed their degree; however, transferring colleges is a very common occurrence in our highly mobile society. There are many reasons that students change schools – marriage, job opportunities, military duty, family problems, illness, or perhaps the college or university just turns out to be the wrong fit for them.
Many times students have already spent countless time and money taking classes term after term and have earned many credit hours in various disciplines. Ideally, students should spend the first two years taking mostly general studies classes–or classes that will usually apply toward any degree. Courses that fall into this category are English composition, literature, general biology, general chemistry, general physics, fine arts (music, art, or theatre appreciation), freshman or sophomore history (American, western civilization, or world), general psychology, general sociology, pre-calculus algebra or calculus, philosophy, etc. Classes that fall into the general studies category are usually 1000 or 2000 (100 or 200) level classes which means they are categorized as freshman or sophomore level courses. Some colleges/universities may use other numerical designations for freshman or sophomore level classes.
If the time to transfer comes at a point where major-specific courses have been taken, students should take several steps to ensure that their courses are given the proper equivalencies to courses at the new institution. If a student plans to pursue the same major at the new university as he/she was pursuing at the old school, transferring credits for applicability to his degree will not be as difficult; however, if a totally new major is chosen, most of the major specific classes already completed will most likely apply only as free electives at the new school. Some degree requirements include some free electives so all may not be lost.
Before leaving the old university, students should make sure to:
1. Secure a copy of the college catalog under which he/she entered this university. Course descriptions from this catalog will give a true description of each course offered at that time. College catalogs may be accessed online also, but having a hard copy is always a good idea.
2. Keep the textbooks and syllabi for the courses that they think may be in question.
3. Request an official copy of their college transcript to be sent to the transferring college. Be sure to give a correct, complete address to the transcript clerk so that the transcript will go to the correct department. The college transcript will be the official document from which all your transferring coursework will be taken.
4. Request an unofficial copy of your transcript or print one online to use when meeting with the new college officials during admission processing or major and/or course selection and discussion.
Once students are admitted to the new college or university, they should:
1. Request an official evaluation of transfer credits from their previous college.
2. After all classes have been evaluated for applicability to the chosen degree plan, students should secure a copy of their degree plan showing how all evaluated classes are being used toward the degree.
3. If a student believes he has taken an equivalent class at his/her old school, but is not getting credit for it at the new school, he/she should first consult the department where the courses are evaluated. If an equivalency cannot be determined there, he/she should meet with a departmental chairperson for his/her review. If this person deems the class to be equivalent to one of the needed courses in the degree plan, he/she will contact the evaluation department and inform them of his decision. Most likely, this determination will be submitted on a formal document. The evaluators will need course descriptions, syllabi, and textbooks to make the most informed decision.
4. If it is determined that the class has no equivalent course at the new college, a student may ask the department chairperson or dean of that particular college or school if he/she would be willing to substitute that course for another course required in the degree. If this is approved, appropriate paperwork would have to be submitted for application to the degree plan.
5. Should a student be fortunate enough to get unused coursework approved in the degree plan, he/she should make sure to follow up on the process to make sure that the approval paperwork has gone to the correct source and that the coursework is applying as promised.
After all the evaluations are completed and everything has been done to make sure that as much transferred coursework as possible is applying toward their degree plan, students should dedicate themselves to completing their degree at this latest university/college. Moving from one school to another is counter productive, and more often than not, a great deal of time and money are lost.