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Community college is a fantastic place to get a start to your education. Whether you’re unsure of your path and want to try out different things, looking to save some money or want to experience a variety of college environments, there’s so much to be gained at community college — including the opportunity to transfer to a four year college to continue your education even further. If you’re nearing the end of your time at community college, you might be wondering, “What’s next?”
Transferring colleges — especially from community college — can be a big step that involves a lot of changes. From the logistics to the lifestyle to the education itself, you might find yourself in a whole new world. If it all feels a bit overwhelming, there are a few pieces of transfer college advice you can keep in mind to make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Get Your Associate’s Degree
If you’re transferring to a four year college to get a bachelor’s degree, it may seem silly to finish your associate’s degree first. But in actuality, it can give you a leg up both in life and in the transfer process. When you come to a four year college with a degree already in hand, it shows that you already have skills and credentials to offer. It also locks in your college credits and usually guarantees your place as a college junior no matter where you go or what the exact breakdown of credits looks like.
Students who transfer with an associate’s degree are also more likely to finish their bachelor’s degree than those who don’t. Even if you just get an associate’s in general studies, it can be helpful to have.
2. Choose Your Major
Transferring to a four year college to finish your education usually means you’re in the home stretch. This also means that you should know what you want and what your educational goals are. Usually, you’ll enter a four year college as a junior — or somewhere around there — which tends to be the end of the rope for solidifying your major unless you plan on tacking extra time and credits onto your college experience.
Think about your long-term career goals and talk to advisors and trusted professors about your path if you’re unsure. A little bit of exploration may just help you find your way.
3. Plan Ahead
While you could set everything up and make all your decisions in the few months leading up to your transfer, that might not be wise. Instead, start planning your transition as early as you can. Visit colleges and universities you’re interested in, look at the transfer agreements different schools have with yours and get a gauge for your options. It’ll probably serve you well.
4. Keep Your Grades Up
Whether you’re entering with an associate’s degree or coming in with just transfer credits, your grades from community college are not a wash once you go somewhere else. Not only will your grades be a determining factor in the colleges you get into and the scholarships you may receive, but they also stay on your transcript. Keeping your grades up might be more important than you realize.
5. Broaden Your Range
Applying for just one university is absolutely fine if that’s what you want to do, but you can also diversify your options a bit and see what you can get. Community college students have successfully transferred into the Ivy League before, so anything is possible. Just like an applicant fresh from high school, you can have some “reach” schools and “safety” schools. See what your options look like and go for your goals — you never know what may come of it.
6. Follow the Money
Everybody knows that one of the many benefits of the community college experience is the price tag. But unfortunately, you can’t always count on getting a quality education at an affordable price. That’s why it’s important to apply for financial aid and examine your financial offerings carefully as you plan your next steps.
While you don’t have to solemnly follow whatever four year school happens to give you the best scholarship package, you can get creative and look for options. There are even application-based scholarships available specifically for transfer and community college students.
7. Get Social
Once you get to campus at your brand new educational home, you might feel a bit like an outsider — but that goes away with time. As you meet people in classes, join clubs and get involved with campus life, you’ll probably find yourself in a robust cohort by the time your first semester is done. Don’t be afraid to really dig into everything your new campus has to offer — it is the college experience, after all.
Making the Easy College Transition
Transferring from community college can truly give you the best of both worlds when it comes to your education. And when the time comes for you to move forward, you have the power to be ready to reach for your goals. By planning ahead and knowing what you want, you can make a smooth transition to another amazing college experience.