Many students begin at one college and later decide to transfer to a different college for one reason or another. The often have many questions during the process or while considering a transfer, and I’d like to share my experiences and offer some insights.
Why Transfer To Another College?
Students transfer colleges for many reasons. Sometimes they realize that the college they’re currently at doesn’t have the major that they discovered they want. In other cases, the student realizes that the school isn’t the right place for them, or that there are too many distractions for them to succeed academically. There are many solid reasons to transfer to another college, but transferring implies that the student will later be in a better place than they currently are. Just like a high school student who is doing a search for a college, transfer students need to also do a search for a better college. It is a search process that takes time, and moving home and going to their local community college may be a bad idea. There has been some evidence that bright students who attend community colleges become less likely than their peers to ever see graduation, so this type of strategy has to be undertaken carefully. Identifying the right college to transfer to will be very important, and if the student has a disability this is an extra factor to investigate since colleges vary on granting accommodations and support services offered.
Sometimes a student wants to transfer to a different college because they did poorly at their current college. Finding a place to transfer to after having a number of bad grades can be very difficult, and I’ve found that it can depend on a number of factors. For example, how badly did they actually do? Was the student placed on academic probation or suspension? Also, what types of colleges is the student open to as a place to transfer? Every college is different regarding how they feel about accepting students who have had bad grades in the past, and there are some that are open to offering a second chance to students. Again, it’s a search process, and can take some time to find a school that is willing to work with a student who has had bad grades.
Will My Classes And GPA Transfer?
Each college is different when it comes to the rules that they set for students, grades, and the transferring of credits. However, there are some general “rules of thumb” that I’ve come across that can give students an idea of what to expect. Students need to ask the specific college about their transfer policies to understand what to expect.
A common “rule of thumb” for a class to transfer is that the college where the class will be transferred to must have an equivalent class for the course the student wishes to transfer. For example, if the student wants to transfer Introduction To Philosophy, the college they wish to transfer to must have that exact class. So, for some basic classes, the transfer process should be straight forward. For other classes, the transfer process might get a bit tricky. I have a couple of students who are attending a small private college in my area that has a class called “quantitative reasoning” that they require for graduation. This particular class is a hybrid of statistics and logic classes, and may not transfer as either statistics or logic since it was a hybrid. Any college that a student transfers to will do a credit evaluation to see what courses will transfer as usable credits or electives. Some students are even asked to provide the school with a copy of the course syllabus during this evaluation process.
The rule of thumb that I’ve encountered for a GPA is that it does not transfer. It resets at zero at the new school, which can be a good or bad thing for the student, depending on how they did at their previous school. Also, only classes where the student earned a “C” or better typically transfer to the new school. Since these are just general rules, students need to ask the school that they want to transfer to about their specific policies.
While many students are interested in transferring to a new college, they should do so only after identifying the reasons why and researching possible colleges to transfer. While many credits may transfer, others will not, and it’s likely that they will need to begin earning a GPA all over again. While for some students this can bring an opportunity, others may find that their hard-earned GPA at their current school will be lost.
Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., is a national level Higher Education Consultant based in Pittsburgh, PA. He’s worked with students and parents across the U.S. about college issues since 2001, and is a member of CSRDE that focuses on best practices in helping students. He is also a member of NACADA, the national college advising association in the U.S. Please see the program page for services Jeff offers.