Transfer Tips from a Community College Employee
After working at a community college and being a transfer student myself, I’ve got some tips and warnings.
After working at a community college for nearly two years and being a transfer student myself, I’ve got some tips and warnings if you’re embarking on this journey too. In that time, I worked in a one-stop-shop registration and advising office and later in the designated registrar’s office.
1. Start saving your syllabi from your classes immediately.
Be ready to fight for your credits to count. When trying to prove that community college courses have equivalency to major-specific courses at your four-year school, some departments will be very reluctant to acknowledge that the work you did at community college is just as good as the work you would have done for them. It’s a very common misconception to write off community college work as lesser.
I’d strongly recommend you do this digitally for the sake of organization. If your professors handed out hard copies at the start of the semester, reach out an politely ask to have a copy of the syllabus emailed to you. Paper copies are all well and good, but if you save every syllabi over the course of two years, it’ll be a lot easier to find things later if you have a digital archive.
This is something that may seem extreme, but it could come in handy for you, especially if you start taking a lot of courses that are relevant to your major in your second year. Schools tend to be a little more accepting of transfer equivalences when it’s for the most basic courses, but community colleges do have a good number of specialized classes. It’s great because you can start learning more about your chosen major, but could potentially make transferring trickier.
2. Keep an eye out for instant decision days and transfer fairs.
These events are fantastic for learning more about the schools you’re looking at. If you can visit them in person, that’s even better, but a transfer fair is a good first step. If you take part in an instant decision day, you can usually get your application fee waived. College is expensive, so save every penny you can.
3. As you’re debating where you want to go, look very closely at the degree requirements and how your credits are going to transfer.
If you’re weighing your options between a few different schools, meet with a transfer advisor at each university. Bring your transcripts. Find out exactly how your credits will transfer. If you get a favorable response from the person about how your credits will transfer, you want to be able to get ahold of that person again.
Get the transfer advisor’s business card. That way, if after you’ve applied, a different person says that not quite as many credits will transfer, you can reach out to that first transfer advisor and point out that someone else had a different interpretation. Be polite when doing this, since you are technically challenging their decision, and a little kindness can go a long way.
It may sound a little paranoid to prepare for this scenario, but I personally had this happen at two different places when I was debating between four different universities. My colleagues and I regularly encouraged students who came to our office to take these steps to go in prepared.
4. If your preferred institution is giving you sass about accepting your credits, look into local legislature.
In New Jersey, there’s a little something called the Lampitt Bill, and it is the last law four-year institutions want you to know about it. This law requires four-year schools in New Jersey to find a way to accept every single credit you took at a New Jersey community college. They weren’t going to take your 200-level poetry course? Mention the Lampitt Bill; now they’ve got to figure out how to squeeze it in somewhere.
If you are based in New Jersey, walk into that advising office, mention the Lampitt Bill, and watch their faces go pale. I had to fall back on this once and it was an incredibly satisfying experience, especially when one school was refusing to take 20 of my hard earned and painfully paid for credits.
For other areas of the country, look into your state’s education laws. There are similar bills out there that can help you. The issue is that most people don’t know they exist and if a four-year institution can make you pay for an extra semester of their courses, well, that’s precisely what they’re going to do.