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MLA Full: "How to Transfer Colleges | Crash Course | How to College." YouTube, uploaded by CrashCourse, 26 May 2022,
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Sometimes you realize the school you're attending just isn't right for you. Or, you discover you want to change majors and a different school has a better program. Or, you've completed your gen ed classes at a community college and are ready to transfer to a 4 year institution. For whatever reason, transferring is something we may have to deal with to complete our college journeys. And, yes, it can be a pain. But, in this episode of Crash Course: How to College, Erica walks us through transferring!

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0:00 - Introduction
1:47 - Common Pathways for Transfer Students
3:39 - Preparing to Transfer to a New School
6:50 - Transferring Coursework
7:32 - Conclusion
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 Introduction (0:01)

From little things, like the color of our hair to what we eat for breakfast every day, to big things, like where we live or who our friends are, it's cliché but true that change is a fact of life. And that can be both scary and exciting.

Think about it like using a train system. Sometimes we know our destination from the start but we may find a better route to get there. Other times, we realize that we need to go to a different destination. But with a little clever planning we can transfer to another train without back-tracking or losing our progress.

When a student changes colleges, that's called transferring. And while it may sound like something complicated or out of the ordinary, it's actually very common.

Think of transferring, or changing colleges, like changing subways or connecting to another flight. Sometimes, transferring is the recommended route, part of the plan from the start. And just like the subway, it helps when we study the map of it so we feel confident and prepared when we make a change. 

Hi. I'm Erica Brozovsky, and this is Crash Course: How to College, a Study Hall series presented in partnership with Arizona State University. Let's talk about transferring schools. 

 Transferring Schools (1:07)

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research center, 38% of students transfer at least once within the first six years of college-level education.

There are plenty of reasons a student might choose to transfer. They might experience a major life event that prompts them to switch schools. Or they might develop a new academic interest that their current school doesn't offer. Or transferring might've always been the plan. Many students start out at community colleges and transfer once they've gotten the basics out of the way. 

When a student decides to switch colleges for any reason, we say that they're "transferring," or that they're a "transfer student." 

Like we said at the start, change can be scary, and it's easy for indecision to set in. But if you know it's time for a change, it's much better for us to make a choice and revise it later, than to not make a choice at all. 

Just like with train lines, there are a million different combinations that will work to get us from School A to School B. 

One common transfer route is from a community college to a 4-year institution. Let's go to the Thought Bubble: 

Take my friend Dan; Dan studies at community college and is working on an Associate's Degree in Health Sciences. Dan has always known that he wants to pursue a healthcare career that requires a Bachelor's Degree, but Dan didn't have the best grades in high school and he never took his S.A.T.'s. 

So instead of worrying about that now, he decided he would take the time to get excellent grades at his community college, with the idea that he would then take advantage of transferring from the community college to a 4-year university. 

In some states, there are actually agreements between 2- and 4-year institutions that guarantee automatic admission to anyone who gets a certain minimum GPA at the community college level. And that's the way Dan's going! He'll graduate from his community college with an Associate's in Health Sciences, and he'll use the transfer agreement program to continue on to a local 4-year university. 

Let's look at another case: suppose Liz started as a History major, then realized she has a passion for Brain Science. Unfortunately, her current school doesn't have the major that she has in mind. But another school has a Neuroscience major, and that new school would also give her the opportunity to do neuroscience research, even as an undergraduate. So Liz transferred from a 4-year school to a different 4-year school, after learning more about herself and what she wants to do. 

And some people transfer from a 4-year college to a community college: take Marta, who's studying at a 4-year college in the U.S. in the Midwest, but because of her family situation, she needs to be closer to home in the Northeast. It might make sense for Marta to transfer to a local community college.

When she transfers, she'll have a smaller financial obligation, she can live closer to family, and she can finish her degree more quickly to prepare to land a job. Remember: transferring is always about aligning your education with your goals and priorities, and what works best for you

There may even be situations where a student might be attending two institutions at the same time, like if you're going to summer school closer to home, while completing a degree in another state during the fall and spring. Thanks Thought Bubble! 

 Financial Impact (3:39)

For a lot transfer students, the first thing to consider is the financial impact. Now if you've always planned a transfer from a community college to a 4-year college, you're probably aware that tuition is going to cost more. But this might be a pretty big surprise if you weren't already aware of it. And, tuition costs vary between 4-year colleges; you might live in an area that has a state university and private colleges, and while both will accept a transfer student from the local community college, chances are, their tuition will be very different. 

And if you're moving to a trade or technical school for a really specialized education, you may be surprised at the cost. These degrees average around $33,000 USD. 

Transferring can also affect how you pay for school. You'll need to check with a Student Financial Aid Offices about the school you attend, and the one you're considering to find out how any federal financial aid or scholarships you have will be affected; and don't be surprised if it gets recalculated.

On the plus side, some universities are starting to offer scholarships explicitly for transfer students from community colleges, so if that's you, it's definitely worth looking into, or even asking the school's Transfer Resource Coordinator if they know of any specialized fund for you. 

And if you took out student loans to pay for college, you'll want to know how they'll be affected by transferring. Usually, if a student borrowed money to go to School A, they're likely able to defer, or postpone, their federal loan payments without interest until they graduate from School B - but it's best to check all the fine print. 

The second thing you'll need to think through are the requirements you'll need to fulfill to get into your new school. Transferring is kind of like a light version of applying to college all over again. You'll want to research places you might want to attend based on your new goals, as well as ensure they are credited. We talk more about that in episode two. 

There will also be some sort of admissions process. Community colleges tend to have open admissions, which means they need to see a GED or high school diploma, but have fewer requirements to meet overall. 

But if you're transferring to a 4-year institution, there are usually more requirements, and you'll want to keep track of the admissions timeline because there are typically strict deadlines for submitting application documents. 

Additionally, and we talk more about this in our next episode, different institutions have different expectations of how much work will be required outside of class. Make sure you can balance your work and family obligations with the expected academic load at any potential institutions. 

It sounds like a lot, but there are people who can help. Admissions counselors and advisors at your transfer school can explain whether your current school has any agreements with them. You may be eligible for guaranteed admission into your transfer institution if the two schools have an agreement. 

It may be possible to talk to a transfer specialist, who is someone in the admissions office dedicated to transfer students to help you figure out the requirements for your new school, and how much the progress you've already made will transfer for credit. 

An intro-level English course might have a slightly different name, course code, and description at each school, but may satisfy the same requirements. By comparing the syllabi between two courses, and comparing the skills that you've obtained to your new school's requirements, you can make sure you're ready to hit the ground running. But, there may be strings attached, like a minimum GPA requirement, or a maximum number of credits that they allow to transfer. These are called "articulation agreements," and are very common. Ask an admissions or transfer counselor about articulation agreements for schools in and out of state. 

 You! (6:28)

Now, the last thing to research isn't about numbers and documents, but about you! It's best to take the time to make sure that you will be comfortable at your new institution. 

For instance, if possible, take the opportunity to visit your transfer school to get a sense of the campus culture. We talk more about how to find the right school for you in episode two. 

Or, check out what services your new transfer school offers before enrolling, like the library, athletic center, or deals available to students on food and merchandise. 

Then, once you've decided on a route, you'll want to start working at the details, like coursework and credits. Students who transfer will likely have to go through the process of declaring a major again (which we discussed in episode 6).

Unfortunately, there are sometimes roadblocks that rule out the possibility of transferring certain credits. Schools often require a grade of at least a C for a course to transfer. It's also possible that a course won't transfer because it doesn't cover the same learning targets as another. Sometimes, credits might not transfer because you've taken two or more courses covering similar content. And lastly, a course may have been taken at a for-profit school whose credits won't count at other institutions. 

But finding out that certain credits won't transfer doesn't have to derail your plans. As soon as you know which credits are a problem, you can make a plan to get back on track and acquire the necessary credits at your transfer institution. 

Basically, there are a lot of questions to ask to help you get where you need to be. In the end, it's a lot like preparing to travel; you know where your goal is and you know how you need to get there, but sometimes planes are grounded and you have to take a train instead. It's a different route but the same goal, and being prepared and flexible means you'll get there in the end. 

If you're making this choice, you're doing it because you realize the route to getting to your destination has changed, and that's okay! Big changes like transferring schools can come with new and unexpected challenges, but as long as you know that the change is for the best, transferring is worth the work. 

With a little preparation and counseling from advisors and professors, transferring doesn't have to be as complicated as it might sound at first. When you have the right plan, transferring schools might even be the best way to end up at the destination you've always been dreaming of. 

Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course: How to College. This series is part of an expanded program called "Study Hall." Crash Course has partnered with Arizona State University to launch Study Hall on its own channel. Check out, where you'll find more tips about navigating college, choosing a major, plus foundational courses connected to college credit courses that students struggle with the most during their first two years. Hope to see you there!