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Transferring to a Four Year University

Community college is a great way to earn college credit - and a degree - without breaking the bank. But if want to transfer to a four year school, it's never too early to start planning.  

There are three main steps to transferring, and ideally you will get started in your first semester of community college.  Preview the steps below - but at the same time, keep in mind that it's also never too late. If you want to transfer right away, and haven't done the research and planning steps, just be sure to meet with your academic advisor as soon as possible to make a plan.  

1. Plan and research  

2. Apply  

 1. Enroll 

Step 1: Plan & Research 

4 semesters before you want to transfer 

  • Don't go it alone. Consult your academic advisor and your mentor for guidance. If you know which university you may want to transfer to, you can also talk to a transfer counselor from your target school.
  • Investigate majors. If you are unsure of your academic program, start exploring and thinking about your major as soon as possible. Click here to get started with some ideas for getting started
  • Learn about articulation agreements. Universities often have agreements - called articulations - with local community colleges that specify which community college classes will earn you credits at the four year school - and which will not. You can look up a particular university's articulations, or check out these state-by-state guidelines:  
  • Many big public universities, such as the University of California, CUNY and SUNY have set pathways for transfer students.  If you already know where you want to transfer, go to the transfer students section of the target university's website.
  • Establish a plan. Map your path(s) by working with your academic advisor to create a transfer course plan to map your coursework for your first four semesters.  This is important as many majors have prerequisites and sequential courses.

3 Semesters before you wish to transfer

  • Begin your research. Identify where you may want to apply and build a transfer college list if you don't already have a school or campus in mind. 
  • Visit campuses. Most offer transfer open houses and information sessions.

Step 2: Apply

  • Apply for admission.  To begin your junior year at a 4 year institution in the fall, plan to apply by mid-November or earlier. Some majors or campuses may have deadlines earlier than these suggested dates.
  • Submit a transcript request. Ask your current college to send an official transcript to the college(s) to which you are applying. Be sure to request one official transcript from each collegiate institution you have ever attended. 
  • Begin applying for transfer scholarships. In addition to regular financial aid, you can find specific scholarships like this one for transfer students. 

Step 3: Enroll 

  • Renew your FAFSA. Request that a Student Aid Report be sent to the campuses to which you've applied.
  • Request preliminary credit evaluations. Some campuses will provide this prior to admission, while others will do so upon admission. If you have questions, speak to a transfer advisor at your current campus.
  • Review your financial aid packages. Compare the net costs between colleges.
  • Choose your transfer college. Notify your chosen campus of your intent to enroll. Pay your tuition deposit.
  • Attend an orientation session. It's a great way to connect with your new campus, help you with transfer shock - and it may even be required at some campuses!

Adapted from the State University of New York's transfer resources