Basics of Transferring
Applying to college for the first time is complicated enough, but the process of
transferring from one college to another can be dizzying. With little
consistency in transfer policies from school to school, there's a lot to keep track
of when changing colleges. Use the tips below to make a smooth transition.
Know When to Transfer
Prepare for your transfer early. The earlier you think about transferring, the better.
Deadlines for admission and financial aid are usually in the early spring for fall
transfers and in the late fall for spring transfers.
If your plan is to spend two years or roughly four semesters at a community college
before transferring, use the timeline below as a rule of thumb to keep you on track.
- First Semester: Meet with your transfer advisor, research four-year colleges
that interest you, and become familiar with their transfer policies. Consider your
academic and career goals.
- Second Semester: Visit the campuses of four-year schools. Talk to the transfer
coordinator in the admissions office during your visit.
- Third Semester: Learn what financial aid opportunities are available, begin
collecting applications, ask for letters of recommendation, request transcripts,
and keep track of deadlines.
- Fourth Semester: Submit your transfer and financial aid application.
Community colleges are aware of their role as a stepping stone for students. To
assist students in the transfer process, many public community colleges and public
four-year schools have articulation agreements. Articulation agreements between
two- and four-year schools ensure that an associate's degree will satisfy all freshmen
and sophomore year general education requirements at the four-year college. For
example, if you earn an associate's degree at Community College A, which has an
articulation agreement with University B, your credits are guaranteed to transfer
as long as you earned passing grades.
You can use the single school or multiple school GECC worksheet to figure out the courses you need to take in your school to complete the GECC package.
Articulation agreements often have geographic restrictions; know the policies of
the four-year school you will be applying to. The list of articulation links provides
more information on specific state's articulation policies.
Make Sure Your Credits Transfer
If you are sure of the college you are transferring to, please check the u.select site to find out if your courses transfer to the school you are interested in.
If you are unsure of the school you are transferring to, please use the IAI Majors to determine the courses recommended by IAI for different majors.
If your community college does not have an articulation agreement, research what
credits will transfer. Details about a college's transfer program are available
in its catalog or on its Web site.
Factors that influence whether credits will transfer include:
- College and/or state transfer policies: Colleges determine which credits they will
accept, with some schools influenced by state-wide articulation programs.
- Appropriateness of the course: Institutions tend to accept credits from programs
and courses that are similar to those they offer.
- Grade received in course: Applicants must meet minimum grade requirements for their
credits to be considered for transfer.
- Proper accreditation and educational quality of the institution/course: You can
check if an institution is participating in Illinois Articulation Initiative and u.select Illinois which are both statewide initiatives.
- Time limits: Policies differ from school to school, but many schools have time limits
on transfer credits. If the credits you hope to transfer were earned more than a
year ago, consult the credit transfer policies at the four-year school.
If an institution will not accept your credits, you may appeal the decision. To
appeal, ask the admissions office at the four-year school for a copy of their appeals
procedure. Appeals are granted at the discretion of the admissions office. Students
are more likely to succeed in their appeal if new academic or personal information
that was not present in the original application, and shows the student to be stronger
than earlier evidenced comes to light.
Get Help from Your Advisor
Transfer policies can change from year to year and may have small-print details
that are easily overlooked. Advisors and transfer coordinators at community colleges
are up to date with what it takes to successfully transfer and are there to help.
Use this resource to help navigate the transfer process, but don't wait for your
advisor to come to you.
Know How Transferring Will Affect Academic Standing
Community colleges usually offer two-year associate's degrees. After earning an
associate's degree, you can typically enter a four-year institution with junior
standing and then achieve a bachelor's degree. Some community college programs don't
award an associate's degree, but you can still enter a four-year school as a junior.
Check with your advisor and the office of admissions at the four-year school to
learn the details. How prepared you are for upper-division university study is up
You're in Charge
Ultimately, to make the most of the transfer process, you need to be in charge.
Plan early and don't be bashful about asking for help. Transferring can cut down
on college costs, but only if you take control and know the details.