Thirty-two. That is the number of college credits I had already earned the day I signed up for classes as a freshman at Ball State University. Three years later, I graduated from Ball State University with my Bachelor of Science. I completed my undergraduate degree in three years, and I owe it ALL to Ivy Tech Community College.
Technically, my “college career” started during my freshman year of high school (important disclaimer: I am not a genius by any standard; therefore, my story is applicable to everyone!), when I signed up to take a dual credit course called Technical Graphics (DESN 102). I took this course at my high school just like a regular class, but the difference is, I received college credit for it. Whoa! That still blows my mind every time I think about it!
Throughout my high school career, I completed a variety of the awesome dual credit courses including, Algebra, Trigonometry with Geometry, AP Biology, AP English and Finite Math. At the end of my four years in high school, I had racked up 20 college credits! Additionally, I challenged myself even further by taking one course, Introduction to Psychology, in the evenings during the school year (I am not suggesting that this is for everyone; it can be tricky to juggle high school courses, extracurriculars, etc., as well as an on-campus college course. I just wanted to make you aware that this is an option!)
Each summer my college years involved a summer course, allowing me to complete Fundamentals of Public Speaking, English Exposition and Persuasion, and Art Appreciation. Could I have signed up for these courses at my four-year university? Well, of course, but the cost effectiveness and benefit of time management during the summer offered a great opportunity to get these “general courses” knocked out ahead of time. This can also be a useful transition tool for new students; the best way to “get a feel” for a college course is to take one! Additionally, summer classes afford you the opportunity to take just ONE course (that does not usually last all summer).
Forewarning, try not to be surprised or offended if the advisor you speak with at your four-year university does not do round-off back handsprings when they realize how much transfer credit you have brought in with you (especially if you have a significant amount). The bottom line is, your hard work and forethought about your educational career can make their job a little bit trickier, in terms of double checking your community college courses to see if they satisfy prerequisites for their courses. Be patient with them, stay the course, and congratulate yourself for being the driven, transfer student that you are!
Could’ves, Would’ves, Should’ves of Transferring
Ever heard the phrase “hindsight is 20/20”? Translated, it usually means, we always realize how we could have done something better looking back. I have coined my own phrase on the topic of hindsight that goes something like this: “hindsight is an opportunity” …an opportunity to help others benefit from your own learning experiences. It is with this perspective I present to you, the “Could’ves, Would’ves, and Should’ves” of transferring.
- Number one, and arguably the most important piece of advice I have for you, is to seek out an advisor within your specific program at your university as soon as you get there. As a transfer student, you may be a rare breed, and freshman advisors, may not be quite sure how to handle your scheduling. Unlike a new student coming into a four-year program with no transfer credits, you will likely have a few of the ‘general classes’ under your belt and therefore, you will not need to schedule those courses during your first year. This means there is a chance you might be ready for classes that are of a slightly higher level (don’t be scared, you are ready!). This higher-level scheduling is best done by someone who knows the curriculum, i.e. a professor in your program.
- Bring a copy of your Community College unofficial transcripts to the meeting you have setup with your chosen advisor (because you already followed the advice from #1; right?). I use the word “advisor” to describe someone who can instruct you on what courses to take; however, this can just be a professor within your program! It may take some Googling to find some email addresses for one of those professors, but I have found that if you reach out to them about scheduling classes, they are more than willing to help.
- If you have taken classes that may be transferrable, go ahead and have your official transcript sent to your new institution. How do you achieve such a feat, you may ask? Well, it is quite simple! All you need is $5.00 and a computer to use to visit www.getmytranscript.org which will take to The National Clearinghouse website.
When you have your transcript sent to your institution, it will be evaluated for eligible courses toward your declared degree program. Eventually you and your advisor will be able to reference your transfer credits when registering each semester. Keep in mind, each time you take a course for transfer to your four-year institution, you will need to request a new, official transcript be sent.
- TransferIN.net is also a great tool that helps you know if your Ivy Tech credits are likely to transfer into your new institution (but only if you are transferring to an institution within the great state of Indiana). Other states may have similar sites.
- One last piece of advice for you: Don’t forget to commend yourself for going above and beyond to earn college credits that are transferrable. Every step YOU take to better prepare YOURSELF for your future academic career will only further your success as a professional and contributor to the field you have chosen.
Okay, maybe one more piece of advice:… Don’t forget to thank the community college you attended. Thank the advisors that helped you schedule classes, the professors who taught you, and the institution that was an essential tool for your academic success.