Professional Education and Career Blog

How to Get the Most Out of Your Transfer Credit

gearheadMany adults returning to school within an active career have attended some amount of college in the past. Some of those previously earned credits may be transferable to your new program. With the right strategy, you can get as much of that credit to count as possible and reduce the time and expenses needed to get the new degree.

Here are some ways to get the maximum credits possible.

  • Do your homework ahead of time. Many colleges and universities will have very different policies when it comes to what credits they accept. Don’t assume they’re all the same. Before you enroll into a school, do some comparison shopping to see what school is going to give you the most credit transfers. Many schools will have an online guide detailing what course credit they take.When in doubt, contact the admissions department and ask questions.
  • Sometimes sending more than just the transcript will help. If you still have them, submit copies of your course syllabus, important tests, papers or projects to detail the breadth of your prior course work. Sometimes courses can be named different things, such as Feminist Studies vs Women’s Issues, and schools won’t always be able to figure out they’re equivalent without additional documentation.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Related to the latter, the ruling of what is transferable is not final. It’s often a judgment call on the part of the registrar as to what will transfer. Sitting down with the agent and giving an explanation of your previous coursework and how it fits with their curriculum might convince the registrar to accept the credits. Remember, the college wants you there as a student.
  • Military credits may be transferable. Military personnel should submit a Joint Services Transcript of any military education, training and occupational experiences you have accomplished during your service.
  • Allow enough time to get your transcripts. Don’t underestimate how long it might be for a college to dig out your transcripts and mail them out. It can take up to a month for the process to complete, and you should allow for more time, just in case. And double-check to make sure the transcripts are complete and include all your coursework.
  • If you don’t think it will transfer, send it anyway. Don’t try and predict what is or isn’t transferable, that’s the registrar’s job. You never know what might end up transferring and matching up to something.
  • If you studied at a foreign university, include an English translation. Don’t assume the registrar has an army of translators able to evaluate your submission. Make it easy on them (and accurate) to evaluate your transcript and coursework.
  • studentPrior work/life experience can qualify as college credit. Yes! Often you can use career experience to earn college credit. Though these type of credits aren’t just handed out easily, it can definitely save some time if you pursue this path. Most schools will require you to package your experiences into a portfolio to make it equate to college units. Your portfolio would contain documentation and writings about your experience, demonstrating that you’re familiar with the subject. Both personal and professional skills can qualify for this type of credit.
  • Considering testing out of a class. Tests are available that can help you bypass a course that you’ve already taken or already know, but just need to prove your knowledge. See: How To Test Your Way to a College Degree.

Don’t be afraid of the credit transfer process. With education become more competitive, more colleges are cooperating in helping students get the most out of their transfer credit. Some schools are standardizing their course numbering system with other schools to make transfers simpler. Schools are also looking at establishing standard general education curriculum requirements so core courses are more easily matched up.

With a little work, you can cut that much time and expense off your goal of that degree.