Are You Transferring into a Specific Major or Degree Program? Start Planning Early!
The number one question I receive from prospective transfer students is “Will my credits transfer to your school?” What is more important is knowing if your credits will transfer is finding out how your credits will be used towards the academic program you hope to pursue. Put another way: How long will it take to complete your desired academic program? My colleagues have reiterated the importance of this over and over. Academic Advisor, Andrea Azarian, of UW-Milwaukee says that "the question is not, 'will my credits transfer?', but instead, 'Which of my transfer courses will count towards my intended degree program?” Some schools make finding this information very simple. If you plan to transfer, it can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches to know before you transfer how the college credits you have earned will count towards the degree you hope to complete.
Perhaps the school you currently attend has an articulation or guaranteed transfer agreement with the college or university that offers the Bachelor’s degree program you would like to pursue. Your academic advisor at your current institution can discuss these agreements with you. Beyond that, whether it is an admissions representative or academic advisor, find someone who can sit down with you and map out how your credits can be utilized towards your intended degree program. Oftentimes, you can do this before you even begin the admissions process. Stay connected to your main contact person. "They're your advocate on campus and are happy to help answer any question related to academics, campus life, careers, etc. We realize transferring to a larger campus can be intimidating, but our goal is to be your "one stop shop" to getting your questions answered or to at least direct you to the appropriate resource" says academic advisor, Tamara Badura, of UW-Milwaukee. Your main contact person as your intended transfer institution can guide you towards taking courses at your current institution that will seamlessly transfer to the degree program you hope to complete.
Depending on the program you hope to pursue, there may be program requirements beyond courses you must take that you can work towards satisfying even before you transfer. Work with your main contact person at your intended transfer institution to understand all that your desired academic program requires. This will really help you to take ownership of your education. The program you hope to pursue may have stricter admission requirements than the college or university requires for transfer student admission. The academic program may have an additional application process in order for students to take upper-level courses or participate in field experiences. There may be a testing requirement, application statement or interview process you need to complete. Perhaps the major you hope to pursue only has an admission cycle once a year or only admits students on a competitive basis based on space in the program. These are important items that you should at the very least know about and hopefully begin to prepare for long before you transfer.
Another reason to start the transfer process early is to make sure you can apply for all means of financial aid for which you are eligible. When thinking about financial aid options at the college or university you are transferring to, keep in mind that you may have more options than federal or state-based financial aid. You will definitely want to add your new college or university to your FASFA, but in addition, do some research about scholarship opportunities at the college or university you hope to transfer to before you even apply. There may be institution-wide scholarships available for incoming transfer students and you may be automatically considered for those, but each school or college at the institution may have a different application process and deadline for its students. You may be eligible to apply for more scholarships than you thought originally. Get in touch with the student services or academic advising office in the school or college that houses your academic program to learn more about scholarship opportunities and the application process.
My biggest advice for a prospective transfer student is to start planning your transfer as early as possible. Connect and remain connected with staff at the institution you hope to transfer to and hone in on a point person who you can go to with questions. This may be an admissions representative, an academic advisor, or someone else. Regardless of who it is, keep in contact with that person each semester or connect with them anytime you have a question to make sure you are on the right track to a successful transfer experience. You are already a college student and you have shown that you can navigate the higher education system. You are your own best advocate so do not be afraid to ask questions. There are staff at your current institution and the college or university you hope to transfer to who are happy to support you through this process.